White Paper : How to Write Content That Generates Sales
What is White Paper
White Paper is a guide to solving specific issues that look like an e-book. The difference is that the White Paper format is dedicated to deep technical topics, teaching users to understand specific problems and solve them.
Previously, research in the form of white paper was more often provided by government agencies and non-governmental organizations.
In other industries, white papers have appeared out of a desire to attract new customers other than through advertising content. Due to the popularity of content marketing, white papers have taken a high position in brand promotion.
B2B sales, finance, consulting, and other businesses use the white book to immerse users in deep research on a specific topic. This is how they show the results of their research and the benefits of the product they are creating.
White Paper format is universal, which is why documents have become so popular. There are several types of white paper:
1. Closed document
This format is used to collect personal data from users. In order to get access to the white paper, a client has to fill out a form with information about oneself. After, a technical file is opened for them. The method where a user pays with the data for the opportunity to read the white book is one of the most popular ways to generate a list of potential customers.
2. Open document
Not everyone is ready to share email addresses and phone numbers, so some users will leave if the document is closed. If your goal is to increase brand awareness, make your white paper open to everyone.
This type of authority document is increasingly used. It is the best so far on this list. Semi-gating document makes it possible to get acquainted with the work but at the same time continues to generate new clients. This happens because you share part of the white paper or several pages. To get access the very essence of the document, you request the reader’s contact information.
See an example of how Foleon did this for their White Paper Introduction to digital content creation.
Why Write White Paper
Good technical documents provide users with important information. Therefore, they not only increase conversions but also help to promote the brand at the top of the industry. White paper benefits the company’s image. A large technical document for users looks like a guarantor of scientific credibility.
Businesses use white paper opportunities in different ways. Some of the most common uses for technical documents are:
- Sharing industry trends.
- Sharing a new product.
- Explaining how the product works and what services to apply for.
- Raising an important problem for the client and show the ways to solve it.
Brands that target the audience and provide the resources from which they can draw important information have a competitive edge. Users want to trust the companies they are involved with. A well-written white paper will showcase your experience and expertise. For potential customers, you will be one step closer in terms of trustworthiness.
Additionally, the white paper is good for search engine marketing. Between long specialized texts and short advertising messages, Google prefers the former. It turns out that white paper helps to advance in search engine rankings.
White Paper Format
1. File type
PDF is the most common file type for technical documents. But it is not always the case. You can turn a document into a blog post. This is sometimes done, but it is not very convenient for users who cannot read the document and want to save it. For more up-to-date information, see the How to Optimize PDF Files for SEO article.
It’s important to remember that 50% of Internet traffic comes from smartphones. With the rise of this trend, designers have had to adapt and customize their work to fit mobile phones. You need to do this too if you want the content to remain readable in half of the downloads. Trending articles on the topic – Mobile Search and Mobile-First Indexing.
Most of the content among white paper is in PDF format and is not adapted. The truth is that the format does not violate the integrity of the document on different devices. Instead, it does not adapt to mobile devices, so many will not read it because of the inconvenience. Not everyone wants to scale a page or turn their phones on portrait mode.
You can create a document using the Foleon tool. The service solves the adaptation problem and helps to change all the elements on the page depending on the screen size.
There is no standard length that suits everyone for the white book. There are documents that have dozens of pages, sometimes hundreds. It all depends on the issue you are talking about and in which industry you are raising this issue. Write as many pages as you want to represent the information. it is better to start with five pages or more so that there is enough space for the required data.
Use a professional tone in the white paper. Avoid grammatical and any other mistakes. Otherwise, the document will no longer be able to compete in the arena of expertise.
4. White paper structure
White paper differs little from the standard format for presenting information in documents. The structure is similar to regular reports. The conclusion is the one thing distinguishes white paper from technical reports.
In technical reports, the conclusion is placed at the very beginning of the document. With white paper, the situation changes. The document gradually informs the reader about the problem and expands its understanding throughout the text. Only at the very end is the conclusion given. The solution that the user came for.
In the structure of the white paper, it is better to adhere to the following sequence:
- Cover page with a heading that arouses curiosity.
- An abstract of what awaits the reader.
- The main question of the document.
- Decoding and deepening into the question.
- Possible solutions to the issue and how to use your product or service for this solution.
- Appendix with a brief overview of the company and contact details.
What content is important to include when creating a white paper:
How to Write White Paper
In order not to avoid getting confused in the process of compiling a white paper, we have prepared some simple tips. By following them, you will greatly simplify the creation of the document and draw attention from the target audience.
1. Define a goal
Decide what you need white paper for. You might be looking to generate sales, increase conversions, or become an opinion leader in your industry. Having a goal set will help you focus on one idea and structure your content correctly. Without a clear goal, you won’t be able to create an effective document.
Well-drafted white papers show experience and knowledge. It also helps to gain customer confidence. After setting a goal, it will be easier to choose a topic for the document. If you want to grow your potential customer base, focus on a topic that will solve the issues of your target audience.
When choosing a theme, consider:
- How well do you understand it? Can you provide a professional perspective on the issue?
- How much does the topic catch the target audience?
- How many materials have been written on this issue? Can you fill in the gaps with the information your customers need?
If you show how your product will be useful for the client and, there is a high probability that they will come back to you again not only for an expert opinion. More than half of users study white paper first and make a purchase decision after.
White papers are even better than e-books in collecting personal information about customers. Users are ready to share information about themselves for the opportunity to access the white paper.
2. Define your target audience
Think about who exactly you are addressing the information to. Who will benefit from the idea that you will pack in the white book? What platforms are these people using to find content, and what keywords they are searching for? This will help to find the correct target, and to use the found keys to optimize white paper. Read the related article – How to Do Keyword Research.
Can you determine if these people are well versed in the topic or if they encountered the first time? If you are targeting experts, you can go beyond professional terminology. You don’t have to write down the research to the smallest detail to get the message across. It will be clear anyway.
If the target does not apply to industry experts, you will have to try harder and write the white paper in simple language that does not make users want to close the document after reading the first paragraph. Make sure the white paper has clear logic, supported by infographics and diagrams.
3. Come up with a catchy headline
It is important to write about what you understand at the expert level and reflect this in the title of the document.
The headline is one of the primary factors that influences whether your document is read or not. It will be the first thing that potential readers will see on the site.
Users will not read the white paper if the headline does not catch their attention in the first few seconds.
The title should reflect what to expect from the document. Play around with users’ curiosity, ask an intriguing question, or write a bold statement.
It is important to determine where the interests of your brand and potential audience meet. Write about what users want to read and reflect it in the title.
Check out the 10 Best Practices for Writing Effective White Paper Titles for a good headline White Paper example.
4. Structure the idea
Create a document outline. This makes it easier to navigate the required information. You won’t miss anything or get confused.
If several people are working on the creation of the white book, use Google Docs to work out the plan. This way you can get multiple people to work together.
5. Do your research
Study the topic of your choice from all sides. Collect statistics to back up the information you submit to white paper. Any document must be supported by data from reliable sources.
If you want a white paper to send a powerful message to your target audience, do original research. Share the experience that you have gained during the development in your industry. Show information that competitors have not yet shown. Let potential customers know who is the leader in your industry.
Your own research does not have to be associated with a huge investment of resources and time. You can take a fairly simple path and conduct a survey to find out what issues existing customers are interested in solving, for example. Conduct an interview with an expert on a specific topic. It doesn’t have to be an outsider. Your own company already employs people that are capable.
Anyone who aspires to become an authoritative source and wants to be approached for support and advice will understand that the time spent finding, collecting, and organizing, information is worth it.
6. Come up with an engaging CTA
Text CTAs increase conversion rates by 121%. If you want potential customers to read the white paper and start working with you, add a clear CTA. Show your readers what you want them to do. Ask them to sign up for a newsletter, go to your site, sign up for a trial period for your product, or specify another goal. The CTA will show users where to follow after reading the White Paper. If not, they will not come up with a job for themselves and will leave with the information they received from the document.
7. Think over the design
Design is the first thing that catches their eye when users open your document. The white paper is not about boring canvases of text filled with technical information. However, these documents contain many technical texts. They cannot do without footnotes and references to authors. Pictures and logos can clutter up a document and make it difficult to read. Your task is to choose exactly what should be in the white paper and what the document can do without it. Find a balance between important visuals and readability.
Grab attention with a well-styled cover. Add pictures, diagrams, and graphs. Show your audience right away that your document is not boring.
Finding the right visualization can take the longest time. Therefore, a plan prepared in advance will make the task easier. It might be easier to focus on the visual first and then fill in the text around the pictures and graphs.
Taking inspiration from others will increase quality. Check out the current design trends. Check out Dribbble and Behance. Designers share their latest work on these sites.
Design is one of the reasons why a user will turn into a white paper reader. Therefore, it is worth remembering the trends, the target audience, and what design will be attractive to them.
See an example of how BDO and the creative agency Scripta approached the design issue in the white paper on Privacy and the GDPR.
To complete a technical document, contact the designer or do the task yourself. You can use Canva’s tool for this. Here you can find different templates that any user can work with, even if they are not familiar with design. The basic features are free but you can expand the tool’s capabilities with a paid subscription.
If you have more experience in design, use Adobe InDesign. The program will help you format the contents of the document as well. You will not run into text that runs away from pictures or have huge uncontrollable gaps.
Design is needed to complement and reinforce the theme you are writing about. Choose colors and typography to match the subject matter discussed in the document.
8. Don’t turn White Paper into a commercial offer
Even if you set a goal for yourself to increase sales, do not make the White Paper text seem commercial. Do not sell services inside the document. If you do, you will lose readers. Help people learn more about the issue you are raising and focus on solving it. Show that you are a professional in your field and are ready to solve any client problem. This way, they will turn to you.
By turning to content such as white papers, readers are looking for useful information that is backed up by professional opinion. White paper acts as a client assistant, not a direct seller.
How to distribute White Paper
After you have completed the white paper, what comes next? Companies often invest resources in creating a white book but forget that creating a document is the easy part. There is a lot of promotion work ahead. Without distributing the document, few people will know about it.
When choosing a distribution method, it is important to consider the points of contact that are the most relevant to the target audience with the information you provide.
If you want the time and money spent on the development of the document to pay off, apply the promotion methods that we describe below.
Be sure to post the document you created on your site. It will be better to make a separate landing page for it. On this page, add a short synopsis of the document and an application form to receive it. It is important to consider the fact that the fewer fields to fill out, the more often the document will be downloaded. You can try the Leadspace tool. It will help you create simple forms with excellent conversion rates.
Write about white paper on your blog. Get attention and curiosity with your message. Make the reader want to know more about the document. This is an important step that should not be overlooked in promoting technical documents.
Create a video about the document. This is a win. 79% of users would rather watch a product video than read a blog post. Take this as a base to the information that you will discuss in the white paper. Upload it to your blog and add it to social networks.
2. Social networks
Show yourself to the target audience to see you. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can help you connect people from all over the world. This is your chance to introduce yourself, share the knowledge you have accumulated, and promote your ideas and product to the masses. Social media is the way to become visible and important to the audience.
Of course, you will have to spend a lot of time to build a base of loyal subscribers at the very beginning.
It’s important to not just join a social network and post new content regularly. Even if it’s the most expert one, it won’t make it to the top if you don’t put in the effort. Find communities and groups where your target sits and make posts in them. Identify the hashtags that potential customers are following and add them to your content. Take advantage of the special features that social networks offer for promotion. For example, you can post pay-per-click ads on Facebook.
Once you develop a social media strategy, it becomes much easier to attract and retain audience attention.
3. Industry experts
Social media is also the best place to find popular people in your industry and connect with them. These people have a great influence on their audience and public opinion, and they can leverage your brand’s influence. Start commenting on their posts on the network, and build a trusting relationship. Ask them to share your content if the audience matches your target.
If you don’t want to write to them on the social network, you can start more formally and write by email. Use the ContactOut tool to find the email address of the person you are looking for. Read the related article – A Practical Guide to Finding Anyone’s Email Address.
If you believe that you are on the same wavelength as a person, you can offer cooperation for future projects to create new white paper. This person may even be the outside expert you interview for the new white paper. Contacts like this will be useful in any case.
4. Email newsletter
It is difficult to grab the attention of your audience online. Users consume a ton of content every day, and it’s hard to be sure that the investment you make in social media will pay off. Despite this, email is still a place to grab the reader’s attention.
The user’s mailbox is their personal territory. They control the flow of information to the mail.
By knocking on your inbox, you won’t have viral posts such as those on social media. Get a loyal audience instead. Each subscriber has decided to be a part of your email newsletter. They selected you as a trusted source of quality content.
An email newsletter can be great if your goal is to increase sales and brand credibility. If you are just collecting a base of potential customers, then you will have to postpone the launch of the mailing and use other channels.
5. Other sites
You don’t need to limit yourself to the resources that you own. Analyze your competitors and try to get into their blog with a guest post about your document. Don’t forget to add the download CTA. Read more in the article – SEO Competitive Analysis.
Use special online catalogs for White Paper:
- Whitepapers Techrepublic.
- Whitepapers Technologyevaluation.
Users often search for technical documents on different specialized sites. Such sites allow you to post information for free or for a certain amount of money. Add a document to one or more of them to reach an audience who purposefully follows the White Paper. This will greatly increase your reach.
The white paper is a powerful content strategy tool. Use white papers to show expertise. Share useful and high-quality information, solve user problems through the prism of your products and services, and get new customers. Among other types of content, the white paper distinguishes its authority due to deep and sophisticated research.
Use these tips to create the perfect white paper and turn your readers into customers. Create a landing page to promote the white paper, share the document on social media, distribute at conferences, and discuss in webinars.
Before diving into creating the document itself, be sure to define your goals and target audience. What could be worse than spending time and resources creating a document that users will not pay attention to? Developing an effective white paper is a difficult but promising process. White paper shows your brand in a positive light and delivers incredible value to potential customers.