White papers present detailed information about topics connected to the solutions that a business offers and usually help their readers solve a problem. They are based on research and reliable data.
To create one, it is useful to understand the characteristics of this type of content and to get to know white paper examples.
Thanks to these aspects, a white paper helps your company to educate its audience, generate more qualified leads, build trust, and differentiate the brand from competitors.
This is possible because they show your brand’s expertise and provide something useful to your audience.
Given these points, we will explain in this article how to make a white paper and which benefits this type of content can bring to your company.
You will also see 5 white paper examples to get inspired and understand the main differences between static and interactive white papers.
Let’s dive into it!
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How to create your white paper
In this section, you will see which steps you have to follow to create a white paper, from choosing the topic to publishing and measuring results.
Choosing the topic
The first step to create your white paper is to define the topic, buyer persona, and sales funnel stage. It must be relevant to your audience and provide information about a question they want to know more about or an issue you can solve, for example.
Besides that, it is vital to choose a subject according to your company’s services, in order to make good use of your expertise and present your brand as a possible solution for other problems that prospects might have.
Planning the strategy
At this point, you can start planning the strategy. Do extensive research to gather reliable information to support your affirmations, establish the withe paper’s structure, and decide on the ideal format and content — for instance, a downloadable PDF file on a landing page, a blog post, a page on your company’s website.
Also, select its features: will you add videos or images, for example?
The planning stage is also the perfect time to think about distribution and promotion strategy. It is useless to have a great idea, credible sources, and a brilliant plan if you do not know how to deliver it to your audience.
Then, consider your persona to discover the ideal channels to reach your prospects.
Do not forget to look for appropriate tools, such as content marketing software, to create, distribute, and promote your content.
With the appropriate platform, your work will become easier, the content will be higher quality and you will be more likely to get the expected results.
Preparing the first draft
Next step is the preparation of the first draft. For this, go back to the structure you set on the previous stage.
A white paper usually consists of a title, abstract, table of contents, introduction, development (background, issues, and solutions), conclusion and CTA.
After finishing the first draft, proofread it, make the necessary adjustments, check data and facts, include visuals, and format the content.
Publishing and measuring the results
Once your white paper is ready, distribute it all over the channels you selected, promote it and measure the campaign’s results.
Then, analyze how the white paper impacts to traffic on your website, engagement and lead generation, among other indicators, which will allow you to verify what is working and what you need to change in your strategy.
What are the benefits of white papers?
White papers can bring several benefits depending on how you include them in your strategy.
Increase lead generation
White papers will increase lead generation because they present information that stirs your audience’s interest.
Then, your prospects will want to discover more about your company and the resources it offers, by filling in a lead form available on your website, for example.
A good technique is to gate your white paper because visitors who fill in the lead form to read or download the white paper are usually more advanced in the customer’s journey (they are aware of their issues, looking for a solution, and probably have some information about your company).
Another good idea is to include the lead form at the end of the white paper. After reading it, perhaps your lead will be ready to take another step in the customer buying journey.
Boost brand authority
One of the main advantages of a white paper is its ability to build brand authority. Demonstrating your company’s expertise and presenting credible information is a way to prove that your prospects can trust your solutions.
Differentiate your brand from its competitors
In addition, your business can use white papers to differentiate themselves from competitors by showing why its own solutions are better.
You also have the opportunity to demonstrate in which aspects you go beyond other companies. Indeed, quality content for free is an asset, and the prospects tend to have a good opinion about the brands that are willing to provide it.
What are interactive white papers?
Interactive white papers are contents that allow your readers to interact with the features you have included in it and get responses according to their actions.
For example, some of them let the reader choose which chapter they will access first. Then, depending on the actions performed by the user (watching videos, clicking on icons or links, answering quizzes, etc.), specific chapters will appear as suggestions.
The key aspect of this type of content is the fact that readers influence the experience. In the example we presented, two people can read the chapters in a completely different order or even skip unique parts of the text, which leads to different interpretations.
This will not only enhance the experience but also make it more relevant for the audience by providing information according to the specific interests of each user.
As a result, it is possible to boost engagement and increase conversion rates with interactive marketing. Since your audience is already interacting with the content, it is easier to make them take an action, such as sharing the white paper on social media, filling in a lead form, looking for other content on your website or blog.
Then, even more, qualified leads will be attracted and a larger number of prospects will become customers.
What are some white paper examples that can inspire you?
In this topic, you will discover 5 white paper examples to get inspired to start preparing your own.
1. The Data-Inspired Art of Sales Acceleration
Dun & Bradstreet counted on Ion Interactive to create three interactive white papers for its marketing campaigns.
All of them have the same style and structure — the first page presents the title, the abstract and a button to start reading. At the bottom of each page, there is a short presentation of the brand.
After clicking on the “get started” button in The Data-Inspired Art of Sales Acceleration, for example, the reader finds the table of contents, which encompasses six chapters plus a preview (a page with the main points of each chapter and a longer abstract).
To get access to the chapters, it is necessary to fill in a lead form that requires name, company, and corporate email address.
2. Networking and Your Competitive Edge
Networking and Your Competitive Edge discuss a complex topic.
However, Cisco managed to balance the text-heavy sections with infographics and other types of visuals in order to ease reading and understanding.
Using visuals to make white papers more accessible is helpful to build trust and credibility.
It demonstrates that your company is trying to present content that even decision-makers outside a specific department can understand, empowering them to actively take part in the decision to acquire your solution.
3. Google Cloud Security and Compliance White Paper: How Google Protects Your Data
Google Cloud Security and Compliance Whitepaper: How Google Protects your Data is a white paper in which Google explains how the G Suite products protect and utilize the data provided by users.
The document has the structure we’ve mentioned: an abstract that shows to which products the guide refers to, a table of contents, introduction, body text, and conclusion.
This white paper presents all the information that prospects who are already in a more advanced stage of the customer’s journey may be interested in, which can influence their purchase decision-making process.
Even though this specific white paper is text-heavy, the visuals and quotations make it more appealing to readers.
Disposing text with different sizes and colors facilitates the reading process, creating a hierarchy to indicate what is more important.
4. A Practical Approach to Emerging Tech for SMBs: AI, Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, IoT, and AR/VR
A Practical Approach to Emerging Tech for SMBs explains the concepts of Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, and Cryptocurrency, Internet of Things, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, showing how they affect consumers, what is the priority for small business, and which businesses will be first affected.
We choose this white paper as an example to show you another publishing format. HubSpot turned its white paper into a web version, so it is presented as a blog post.
The text is illustrated with visuals, and the reader can easily move to different sections by clicking on the table of contents.
5. Interactive Content Basics
This is another example of an interactive white paper. Filled with data from a study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), this white paper presents basic concepts, types of content, benefits, and statistics about the usage of interactive content in marketing campaigns.
Interactive Content Basics’ structure provides a very good user experience thanks to its layout, which balances visuals and textual, and its interactive features (for example, dots the reader can click on to show more information, buttons to move to next chapter).
The content is not gated, though there is a lead form for prospects who want to get the PDF.
This white paper is engaging and convincing because, despite a large amount of data, it doesn’t look heavy. Each section and statistic is presented in small blocks, with the aid of visuals. Therefore, the reader can easily visualize and understand the information.
What are the differences between static and interactive white papers?
One of the main distinctions between static and interactive content is the amount and quality of information that your company can obtain.
For instance, a static white paper offers limited information about the readers while an interactive one allows your business to find out a larger amount of relevant details.
Thanks to an interactive white paper, you can know how leads consumed the content: how much of it they read, which elements they interacted with, how much time they spent in each section.
This is a rich source of insights about your audience that enables you to create highly personalized campaigns to reach new leads and nurture your prospects.
Besides that, interactive content is more engaging and provides valuable information in a dynamic and entertaining format, in addition to easing comprehension of a complex topic. As a result, the reader is more likely to share the content with their peers or even their boss.
For your company, an interactive white paper is helpful to start a conversation with your prospects at the moment they demonstrate interest and then drive them through the sales funnel.
Your marketing campaign is also enhanced if you use an interactive white paper instead of a static one because you can easily connect it to other types of content and expand the experience of your lead.
This is a way to stimulate the reader to consume more of your content and move further into the customer’s journey.
Given some statistics presented by the Content Marketing Institute, we can affirm that interactive content is usually more effective to achieve the marketing campaign’s goals.
According to CMI, 87% of the interviewed marketers agree that interactive content is more effective than static, and 75% affirm that it increases the degree of lead nurturing because it demonstrates the brand’s expertise.
After checking out these white paper examples, learning how to create this type of content, discovering its main benefits and understanding how interactivity can improve your results, you are then ready to create your own.
Would you like to continue learning about digital content marketing? Discover the definition of content performance.