Thanks to the internet, there are seemingly endless ways for B2B marketers to reach their audiences. However, choosing the right form of content can be a challenge as a result. According to the “B2B Content Marketing 2018: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America” report, 71 percent of today’s B2B marketers leverage ebooks/white papers for content marketing purposes.
From the report: “Among the content types, distribution formats, and social media platforms that respondents use, they rated ebooks/white papers, email, and LinkedIn as most effective at helping their organizations achieve specific objectives.”
Now that we know many B2B marketers are creating white papers and finding them to be valuable assets for meeting objectives, let’s take a look at some of the steps that can be taken throughout the creation process to ensure they are converting.
1. Identify a Topic and Create an Eye-Catching Title
When selecting a white paper topic, make sure it aligns with your overall marketing strategy. It’s important to focus on topics that fall within areas of your expertise, as the final result will help to build authority and prove your organization is a thought leader in the space. Additionally, as with any piece of content, it’s critical to keep the audience in mind and craft the paper to address their key pain points. After all, it’s their information that you’re after, and the best way to get it is to provide a solution to an existing problem.
Next, you should consider the title of the white paper. The title is likely the first thing that will be noticed and it serves as a way to immediately hook the reader. When creating a white paper title, it’s important to avoid industry buzzwords and instead focus on clear and concise language that explicitly shows what the reader can expect.
And of course, don’t forget to do keyword research and create an SEO-friendly title. Doing so will allow those outside your promotion circle to discover the content and move down the funnel.
2. Outline, Write, and Edit
Now that you have a topic and title in place, it’s time to start the writing process. Since white papers are designed to showcase your expertise in great detail, you should outline what will be included, and in what order. Without a roadmap, it will be easy to ramble and lose direction. As a result, you will likely lose your reader as well.
When creating an outline for B2B white papers, consider adding the following sections:
- Table of Contents – Outline of the sections that will be covered.
- Introduction – Explain why the topic of choice is important to success in the industry.
- Challenges – Focus on some of the most common audience challenges.
- Solutions – Explain how the challenges can be overcome and provide a fix to the problems (this could be your services!).
- Summary – Revisit what was covered throughout the paper and use it as your last chance to explain the topic’s importance in the industry.
As you and your team execute the writing of the content, it’s important to be professional and go into as much detail as is needed to fully provide a solution to their pain points. While you may think about word count on your corporate blog, a white paper is a place to showcase your expertise in as many words as it takes.
3. Build a Landing Page
When creating B2B white papers that are designed to convert, you must have a conversion-optimized landing page. This page will serve as the gateway to the content the audience is looking to consume, and all promotion efforts should lead to it. Be sure to link back to the landing page as you promote the white paper on social media and other channels.
When creating the white paper landing page, try to find a balance. Offer up enough information to explain what can be found within, while also leaving the reader with a reason to offer their contact information to get the full version. The white paper landing page should include:
- A short intro about the topic.
- A few bullet points that explain what can be found within (think about the subheadings here).
- A call to action. Here’s an example of a CTA that could be added to the bottom of the landing page: “Fill out the form below to download our latest white paper and learn X,Y,Z.”
From a previous blog post I authored:
“We’ve all heard it: “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around, does it still make a sound?” While you may be thinking to yourself, “Yeah, I have. Why is this the leading sentence in a marketing blog?” think of it this way: “If a content marketer writes an outstanding piece but fails to consider promotion and their target audience, does anybody notice?”
This excerpt holds true when creating B2B white papers. You can create a great white paper, but without a proper promotional strategy behind it, it will likely get lost in the digital content avalanche. Think about including bits and pieces of the white paper in social media posts, an announcement in an email newsletter, and even a blog post that relates to the theme of the paper. Regardless of the strategy being used for promotion, be sure to send the audience to the landing page with a well-placed CTA and link (as described in section #3).
5. Track Results
All of this effort could be for naught if you don’t have the mechanisms in place to track leads and measure the conversion performance of your white paper campaign. Keep conversion tracking in mind when building the landing page. Establish goal and event tracking parameters within your analytics platform of choice and think about tying it to your CRM as well. This will make it easier to connect website visitors directly to the sales process, and hopefully, dollars being earned.
Your existing customers and prospects are always looking for information that helps them accomplish whatever it is they might be working on with greater ease and efficiency. B2B white papers are a great way to do just that. I hope the tips included in this post help to put you on the path to success.
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