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How Whitepapers Can Help Your Content Marketing Strategy

Along with the big shift toward social media and digital marketing, there came a long list of additional adjustments to modern day content marketing strategies: the mad scramble to make all content mobile-friendly, the haphazard Facebook promotions, not to mention the weekly or monthly email campaigns. In the process of chasing after the likes of Instagram and continuous attempts at pushing for viral marketing initiatives, we often overlook the value of the humble whitepaper.

In an age where content is king, whitepapers are essential to establishing a brand in an overpopulated space. But before understanding how whitepapers can aid your content marketing efforts, it is best to understand exactly what a whitepaper is and how to write one better.

Blog vs Whitepaper

While whitepapers are not blog posts, there is often confusion about the differences between the two. For starters, if you are compiling or writing a whitepaper for a particular project, you immediately become aware that you are writing something entirely different than a normal blog post.

No matter the trade or scope of practice, you have to treat it as a well-researched article for an industry journal. So, do your homework thoroughly. The reader expects cold, hard facts and logical arguments, not conjecture. Be prepared to be taken to tsk on your sources or your figures.

Whereas a blog is very much about the individual, their thoughts, their experiences or just their day at the beach, whitepapers are solely about the topic. Think of it as Twitter vs LinkedIn. One would be more informal, while the other would be noticeably more professional. A good white paper is driven by factual content that should be referenced and it should serve as a platform where industry professionals can engage with one another.

Style & Tone

Think about sitting at the big boy table of the industry you are writing about. Better yet, it is a symposium for industry specialists and you are the lead speaker. You are surrounded by experts, leaders and qualified professionals on all sides. You are there to deliver a presentation on the topic you are writing about. What would that presentation look like?

If your answer omits the words concise, clear, to-the-point or brief, then go back and reread the paragraph again. When you are talking to professionals, you should adjust your tone accordingly. Unless you are the sole influencer in your industry and everyone looks to you for guidance, you will probably have someone higher up the ladder reading your white paper. Make sure they don’t find something to fault you on.

Layout

Again, think about your presentation to the big boys. There should be a beginning, a middle, and an end. Oh yes, definitely an end. The worst thing you can do is to leave an open-ended presentation without a conclusion or a closing argument.

Usually your beginning will be your introduction, the middle will be the body of the content and the end will be your final point-making paragraph. There are deviations from this format, but they are exceptions to the norm.

If your introduction highlights the problem areas or the core of your topic, then the body of the content should offer solutions to these problems or expand on the topic, while the conclusion will tie both the introduction and the content together as a final clarifying point.

No Selling

This is probably the defining and most challenging point. It is the one thing that could rob your content of its white paper status in a flash. Never, ever, sell yourself in a white paper. While the aim is to inform and to share insight, it should never be to sell or showcase your brand, or, for that matter, even favour any particular brand to the point of it sounding like paid-for content.

Don’t get me wrong, you have to leave your signature or your credentials after the conclusion. The reader needs to know who you are, but it is best to make them want to know who you are and what you do. A white paper is not a fruit stall with random bits of information, and you are not the street vendor looking for hapless hopefuls who you can peddle your services to.

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How Exactly Can White Papers Boost My Content Marketing Strategy?

If you are still unsure how this ties into your content marketing strategy, then try to see it from a digital perspective. Thousands of businesses are looking for high quality content to share through their channels. In so doing, they offer their clients, customers or patrons, effective solutions to their problems or concerns. You have just provided a detailed solution to their problem or an insightful feature about a current matter.

The validity of the post gives you validity. Every hyperlink to your white paper provides a positive effect on your SEO ranking and it brings a new customer from a previously unexplored marketing avenue. With a great distribution plan for your white paper, you will not only expand your reach but you will generate a better online presence.

While your in-depth research material offers other businesses with a tailor-made problem solving kit, your white paper also creates an atmosphere of collaboration and inclusion with other businesses or brands.

Conclusion

The most important point to remember is the power of the content you opted to write about. A moving or informative white paper is often made up of strong factual content, based on extensive research exercises and referencing industry leaders or influential entrepreneurs with the relevant experience. Incorporating that knowledge into your content marketing strategy, will establish you as a reliable source within the industry. And that will give you a powerful advantage over most of your competitors.

Why Your Business Needs Whitepapers

Think white papers have faded into the grey? Think Again!

Called the “cornerstone report” in business industries, often highlighting benchmark moments in our industrial and financial evolution over the years, white papers have been around for the better part of the twentieth century and despite a few misconceptions they are in fact still in demand.

Why? Simple! There is just no better way to present well researched, in-depth information.

Intriguingly enough, there are many forms in which a white paper can be presented, ranging from a business report released in the Sunday newspaper right through to the ever-familiar online version.

There is no doubt that everyone has read a white paper in some form or another at least once, whether they realized it or not.

They can sneak up on you, you know. This is the very reason why white papers are still so valuable and effective.

They continue to serve several important sales and marketing functions within our business sectors, including generating new leads, increasing company profiles as an informed professional, and setting brands apart from competitors by enhancing what is provided in quality and knowledge alike.

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In recent years, statistics were released showing that up to 51% of companies still rely on content through white papers to research their buying decisions. 96% of consumers want content with input from industry thought leaders, instead of the run of the mill information or jargon one sometimes finds.

So, before you join the crowd in chanting that white papers are on the outs, consider a few points that go quite a way in explaining why and how white papers are still being used today.

Gating

Well-researched and authoritative in a specific topic, these nifty reports make great incentives for users to convert to potential customers or clients on a specific website.

By requiring that interested customers provide their contact information in exchange for free and highly valuable content, you can build what is referred to as a “gate” around any content you are providing. Entry to this information is usually just requires a few seconds of the customer’s time.

Studies have shown that 76% of buyers are willing to register for and share personal information in exchange for white papers and the information they supply – 13% more than those who would do so in exchange for an ebook.

Simple right? This step could turn into a huge business opportunity for those companies who are quick with the follow-up and implementation.

One of the key attributes of white papers is that they are an effective means of generating leads within any business initiative. They are a tried and tested method of collecting information from customers and buyers.

White Papers Establish You as a Thought Leader

Marketing Insider Group defines thought leadership as “a type of content marketing where you tap into
the talent, experience, and passion inside your business, or from your community, to consistently answer the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience, on a particular topic.

It is through this that white papers show their true strength and value. Each topic is so thoroughly researched and professionally presented that one cannot help but feel deeply informed and motivated after reading one, because let’s face it knowledge is power after all.

White Papers Give You a Competitive Edge

If you want to put your company on the map, you need to find a way to set it apart from the competition. White papers allow you to achieve this.

While it is safe to assume that your competitors create content mainly for social media and engage in some sort of blogging and other means, studies show that it’s significantly less likely that they are creating white papers. This creates a perfect gap for you to step into. People love different.

Statistics from a survey AlterraGroup conducted show that white papers and ebooks ranked only fifth in B2B marketer’s most used content marketing vehicles. While most create social media content (83%) and blogs (80%), white papers and ebooks (65%) are only created by around two-thirds of B2B marketers.

As more businesses and curious consumers seek content and find value in it, the demand for white papers lives and thrives.

Creating a set standard of professionalism and knowledge has and always will be a winning formula. So the next time you find yourself in a debate about what type of content you should create next, perhaps you’ll spare a thought for the humble, but formidable white paper.

Why White Papers Matter

Contrary to popular belief, white papers are not losing their punch. In fact, they are still one of the most valuable tools available to anyone wishing to market their business. White papers give your business proposal the extra “clout” needed to push it over the edge. Filled to the brim with facts, figures, case studies, reports, and analyses, a white paper is an invaluable marketing instrument.

White papers are thought of as some of the oldest marketing workhorses out there. “Old”, in this case, most certainly does not mean “outdated”. Perhaps the best aspect of a white paper is the fact that its major purpose is to educate rather than sell. In an age where sceptical millennials are in charge of many (if not most) important business decisions, hard selling is no longer the best option. Consumers are looking for more than a mere sales pitch; they want to learn, absorb information, or understand a particular message.

White papers should always have a firm foothold in ground-breaking ideas and thought-provoking innovations. The issues addressed should be clear, concise, and relevant to their time. All research should be substantive, in-depth, and lead to a conclusion that makes sense to the target market. In every section of content, the white paper should drive your point home, using as many relevant resources as possible.