Want to generate more leads? Need an e-reputation lever? Is your prospect file looking like a sorrow? The white paper is there for you!
\”Your website should be 100% focused on signing up strangers to give you permission to market to them (Your website should be 100% focused on registering foreigners giving you permission to offer your marketing to them) ”- Seth Godin.
However, how many first-time visitors to your website contact you? How many leave you their contact details? Very little, I imagine. However, they likely have an interest in your business.
What’s the point of having a website if it doesn’t retain visitors? What is the use of your SEO efforts, if you can’t turn them into prospects?
A white paper is a lever to get visitors to your website into your sales funnel. At the heart of BtoB content marketing, it values your expertise thanks to perfectly targeted premium content.
After a quick review of the benefits of writing a white paper, discover the best tips for boosting ROI.
Why waste time writing a white paper?
Writing a white paper takes time and effort. However, this B-to-B content has many advantages in addition to being able to have an excellent ROI:
- Increase the conversion rate by activating a sales lever,
- Feed your leads (lead nurturing),
- Maintain the link with visitors to your site,
- Bring back part of your website traffic,
- Get contact information for visitors to your website,
- Develop a file of new prospects,
- Position yourself as an expert in your field,
- Promote your knowledge and skills,
- Provide premium content to share on social media,
- Boost organic traffic to your website by getting more links,
- Connect to your audience,
- Build customer loyalty with excellent content,
- Strengthen your brand image,
- Strengthen your credibility, your notoriety and your e-reputation,
Above all, you need to write a white paper because, quite simply, it is “the most effective content,” as Ludovic Salenne, founder of the agency SLN Web, claims.
But without further ado, here are 8 tips for writing the best white paper ever written.
1 # Determine a strategic ambition for your white paper
A white paper cannot be thought of in isolation. It is an element of a B2B marketing strategy, and more specifically of a content marketing and / or inbound marketing plan. Also it represents an action among all that includes your strategy, next to your articles of blog of company, emailing, social marketing … Do not forget to work complementarity with the other types of contents which you offer.
The white paper aims to get a visitor to your website into your sales funnel and move it forward. Because almost no visitor to your site will buy during their first visit, you must “proceed to nurturing marketing”, as Guilhem Bertholet, co-founder of the content marketing agency Invox in “L’art du White Book “. It’s about providing content to prospects throughout the business process. This corresponds to an approach of lead nurturing (feeding the lead) and also of lead scoring (qualifying the lead).
A white paper must meet several goals which will influence its design. Don’t you want this premium content to generate new qualified leads, boost your expert rating or boost customer loyalty? Up to you !
2 # Identify the loaves of your targets
With regard to the objectives that you wish to give to your white paper, you will visualize your target B2B audience. Logically, you already know it well. These are your customers and prospects. Perhaps you have even drawn your buyer personas already?
Who are your buyer personas? These are 4 or 5 customer profiles that correspond to your product lines, according to Gabriel Dabi-Schwebel, associate director and founder of the agency 1min30. Each must be named and described according to a set of criteria: function, education, responsibilities, working conditions … The personality, centers of interest and bread of each buyer persona are then to be specified.
Defining your buyer personas correctly is crucial. Why ? To hit the mark with your B-to-B content by meeting the needs and expectations of your targets. Your target audience is having difficulty, asking questions or needs your help. In which domain ? Your expertise will be of great help to them, documented in a white paper.
Depending on what they expect, determine which subject interests them. What premium content will your target readers download? What theme will answer their breads? What excellent content will generate a ROI? In this way, you will determine the problematic of your white paper.
As a reminder, the problem corresponds to the synthesis, generally in the form of a sentence, of the presentation of a problem in different aspects. It is therefore more of a set of interrelated problems than a particular problem. Its resolution calls for several partial responses.
When you produce excellent content, its true quality is revealed to the target audience. That’s why you have to aim right! If you are targeting prospects who have no knowledge of the subject, your white paper must remain affordable to the greatest number, adopt a very didactic tone and include many explanatory parentheses.
Conversely, if you talk to experts, have no restraint! Advantageously spread your knowledge without complex. But try to make your premium content accessible to Boeotians who want to know more. Include a lexicon or small inserts to make regular points and not lose anyone.
If you are looking to attract leaders directly, introduce the most interesting arguments directly. You can punctuate your content with references to profitability or to the benefit of companies, for example, in connection with the subject of your white paper. In any case, speak the language of your buyer, as James Anderson explains on Top Rank Blog.
3 # Hang with an explicit, intriguing and convincing title
As with any type of marketing content, the title of a white paper should grab attention. In a few words, he must say a lot! It needs to be clear enough about the content of the white paper to appeal to the right targets.
The title also needs to be honest about what the white paper will contain. So, not outrageously touting! But still copywritten to get attention. It must convince distracted and eager visitors to your website to download your B-to-B content, against their personal data. It must arouse interest, arouse curiosity or challenge.
The title should very convincingly present the promise of premium content. The most effective titles are those that suggest that no other content will be needed in addition. These are the ones who present themselves as complete guides.
Here are some ideas for leads to explore:
- “The ultimate guide to …”,
- “Everything you always wanted to know about …”,
- “The secrets of …”,
- “X good reasons for …”,
- “How to succeed …”,
- “The success kit of …”,
- “X steps for”,
- “Improve your performance with …”,
The originality of a title is also a avenue to explore. Do not hesitate to use a figure of speech to arouse emotion. This is all the more interesting for technical and austere content. So take the opposite view, use irony or incorporate a metaphor.
4 # Establish a simple, detailed and attractive plan
The success of a white paper depends very directly on what your targets will perceive of your B-to-B content as soon as it is downloaded. They must immediately want to read it. Also the plan is essential to generate a ROI.
What is an effective summary? It should simply offer a logical path to your response to the problem. It has to be very easily understood by your targets. Its length should be commensurate with that of the white paper, while being readable at a glance.
How to write a white paper plan? Take up the problem and develop your reasoning. Each part of your development must advance your thinking, as Frédéric Canevet explains on his Marketing Advice blog. The titles must be copywrites, like that of white paper. The plan should be sufficiently explicit about what you are going to cover and at the same time arouse the interest of the readers.
The typical structure of a white paper is this:
- introduction and / or problematic,
- presentation of the company.
It’s pretty general as a format. It’s up to you to adapt it to your strategy and your subject.
5 # Offer unique, consistent and premium content
To gather all the necessary content, a documentary search is essential. It is often very interesting to interview an expert on the subject in question. It will provide very interesting, but too technical information which will then have to be “translated” for the general public.
It is also very informative to read comments from feature articles, ebooks and other interesting publications on the subject. They highlight the expectations of the readers and the faults of the existing. You will also see the vocabulary used by people interested in the theme of your white paper.
The web content and white papers are so plentiful that you may be wondering what to offer. Difficult when everything was written to stand out. Yet there is always room for excellent content, the content that you will build with your own expertise. To stand out, you inevitably have to produce premium content.
The Contently blog writes: “Your white paper is […] an opportunity to create an image of expertise and insight that will help your readers. […] You need to give them something of value, and you can only do that by filling your white paper with useful tips and information (Your white paper […] is an opportunity to create an image of expertise and insight that will help your readers. […] You have to give them something of value, and you can only do that by filling your white paper with helpful tips and information.) ”
How to build premium content? You must aim to be authoritative in the field by supporting your speech. “Make sure you mention previous authoritative work on the subject. Your mission isn’t to be the only expert in the field – it’s to be the latest expert with the freshest insights. (Be sure to mention the authoritative work on the subject. Your mission is not to be the only expert in the field – it is to be the last expert with the freshest ideas.) ”, As John McTigue of Kuno Creative rightly points out in his excellent article on Hubspot.
What about the ideal length of a white paper? The one that responds to the problem posed by properly highlighting your expertise on the subject. Some say between 10 and 20 pages, others between 30 and 50 pages. It all depends on your subject (and your budget)!
However, you need to make the white paper more consistent than a blog post. I find that 10 pages is very little. To give you an idea of the length that this represents: this article is more than 14 pages! The fact remains that on a specific point, a specific angle or a pointed subject, this remains possible. As for the maximum length, you should question the advisability of dividing the content into several white papers to perhaps capture more prospects and the ability of your targets to read a long document.
6 # Discreetly and smartly talk about your business
A B2B whitepaper is not promotional content. Don’t be self-centered in promoting your products and services if you want to make them premium content. But it must keep your mark and mark the spirits of your company.
It is customary for you to be able to present your company there, for example in an insert. But don’t make pages of it! Note your contact details too. Leave your name and / or logo at the bottom of the page or in the header, in addition to the cover. Don’t overdo it!
Good white paper is excellent content that can skillfully sprinkle your expertise. “The white paper is not a flashing advertising sign. Don’t say what you can do, show it! \”, As Caroline Groutars specifies on the blog Write for the Web. This is where you need to talk about yourself indirectly.
The concrete cases that you deal with every day are interesting examples to highlight. Illustrating your words, they testify to your competence discreetly, but surely. They value you without falling into promotion.
The other great virtue of the examples is to further allow your readers to feel concerned by the subject covered in the white paper. Your examples highlight customer issues that will necessarily speak to readers. So they gently lead them to project themselves in relation to your business.
You also have to make sure that your B-to-B content reaches its goal. Your ROI is linked to it. What do you want your reader to do after reading your white paper? End it with a call-to-action in the conclusion. It will make it clear to the reader what you expect from him. “If prospects are convinced that they are reading, they should be able to contact the company immediately or sign up for your service,” says the Pellerin Formation blog.
7 # Present a pro and cool design
For the credibility of your white paper, the presentation of the document is essential. It should reflect a good image of your company. Quality B-to-B content is not austere. It should be pleasant to read, airy and perfectly illustrated.
Even if your subject is complex and technical (or rather, especially if it is), the visuals and examples make it accessible. A simple concrete case or a pretty pie chart can sometimes be heard so much faster than a whole paragraph of complicated and convoluted explanations.
The important thing is to keep the reader’s attention. Varying the type of content makes it easier to remember it. The illustrations catch the eye, as do the inserts of different colors. Know how to play the layout.
How to enhance a B2B white paper? Embed visuals, images, infographics, graphics, diagrams … If your images, graphics and photos are poorly formatted, you will spoil your work. Layout software like InDesign is the best, but advanced use of good word processing software can provide excellent rendering.
The cover page should be particularly well thought out. This is usually the one that serves as an overview. If you invest in a beautiful, unique, high-quality photo or in custom graphics, you show your audience the value you give to your white paper. This enhances your brand image and gives much more authority to your premium content.
Also offer different reading levels in your white paper. How? ‘Or’ What ? By integrating summaries, by highlighting certain words or sentences, by presenting a very detailed plan. You should always keep in mind that the majority of your readers will not read everything from A to Z as soon as you download your white paper. Also encourage them by offering to facilitate their reading.
As for the question that burns your lips on the number of columns, I would say it’s a matter of taste. Personally, I find that two columns give a better image, something really accomplished. A column can also be appreciated. On the other hand, beyond two columns, there is a significant loss of readability. You have to think that the white paper will be read on a tablet, even on a smartphone.
Don’t overdo it either! Keeping a simple design allows you to make room for your B2B content, which is most important, right? Just make a good choice of colors and fonts.
8 # Encourage the download of the white paper
To boost your ROI, you have to wet the jersey! You have excellent content, you might as well try to make it benefit the most people. Once you’ve written your white paper, your work doesn’t end there. You have to find the right levers to encourage downloading and promote it, as with any marketing content.
Often forgotten, the call-to-action to download the white paper is however fundamental. Haven’t you noticed that almost all B2B sites have exactly the same wording? And what emotion causes you to have a CTA such as “download the white paper”? No doubt! You will tell me that it is better than nothing, that it is clear at least or that since it is free … But it is a shame to have made such a great white paper and not to accompany it until ‘at the end to capture visitors.
So how do you write a good call-to-action? Coming back to your target’s loaves. Find the catchphrase that shows that your white paper has not only perfectly identified their problems, but that it also responds to them in detail.
To be fitting, it is quite obvious that if your white paper is so fabulous, and it is, it must be given the necessary space with a nice pop-up or, better, a landing page, and not just a small insert in your sidebar.
To highlight your CTA, create a superb presentation of your white paper. Include a summary, if not the summary, so people know what he is talking about. Explain to them why it is important to them. It is also very relevant to add comments from readers.
How to organize your pitch? To boost the download of your white paper, Neil Patel suggests writing your text as follows:
- Approach the target pain point,
- Overcome his objections,
- Provide real utility to solve his loaves,
- Promote your offer,
- Directly appeal to your target.
What about the download form? Generally, include a form field or two. You have to keep it simple to get people’s contact information. The design should be sleek to avoid distraction and help your visitors get to the point.
But beyond the generality, your reflection on the appropriate form is twofold. On the one hand, it needs to provide you with enough information about the people who download your premium content to generate new leads. Sometimes asking for more information limits the number of downloads, but improves the quality of leads.
On the other hand, the information provided must be commensurate with the importance of your white paper. A small 10-page white paper on a worn-out subject cannot be obtained with a 10-field form.
The reflection can also be reversed. If you want to generate hyper qualified prospects by getting a lot of information about them, you need to offer very high quality white paper.
To obtain a B2B white paper, the classic case is to request an email. But it is also possible to offer to activate a social account. Neil Patel explains that with Facebook social authentication, a few years ago, he increased his registration rate by 36.1%. He also offers to get the white paper against sending a tweet.
You should also promote your white paper off-site. Because if you only rely on your website, you are going to be limited by the traffic it generates. By making a great promotion off site, you will develop traffic on your own site.
A white paper represents a very good product to put forward in an advertisement (Facebook…). In addition to this lever, Mitt Ray, an American specialist in white papers, offers several ways to launch a white paper: writing articles on your blog highlighting the white paper, writing guest articles, soliciting opinions, integrating guest articles experts on your blog, send an email to your blog subscribers …
Here are some tips for a white paper that hits the nail on the head. Tell me in the comments if you feel that with this article you are better equipped to write a ripping white paper.