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7
minute read
October 11, 2019

How to Use Whitepapers for B2B Marketing

Written by
David Scott

Whitepapers are amazing assets that you can use to promote your product or service. They can be a strong lead generation asset and position your company as an industry leader.

But, what exactly are whitepapers in marketing?

In this article, we’re going to show you what whitepapers are, why you should be using them in your B2B marketing, and how you can create them.

Without further ado, let’s jump into the article.

Whitepaper in Marketing - Definition

A whitepaper is an authoritative report on a topic that highlights a problem and positions your company as an expert on solving the problem.

By the end of a whitepaper, your reader should feel completely informed on the topic at hand. Ideally, your whitepaper will contain in-depth and unique research and be packed with data to back up your perspective.

They’re a popular tool in B2B marketing, as they’re the perfect way to showcase your company’s expertise and are a powerful lead generation tool.

Why Create a Whitepaper?

 If you’re thinking about creating a whitepaper, you need a good reason to do so.

Without a good reason and plan for creating one, you’ll spend weeks researching, creating, and publishing it and won't see results or any ROI from it.

But, there is still a time and a place for whitepapers in B2B marketing.

If you’re selling a technical or expensive solution, then you’ll encounter long decision-making cycles from your leads.

If that's the case, whitepapers are a great asset for helping your leads with their decision-making process, and they should help speed up your sales cycle.

Whitepapers in B2B Marketing
82% of decision-makers say that whitepapers are their most used type of content when making decisions

Whitepapers are the most used content type by key decision-makers. The reason for this is that a whitepaper should be a deep dive into the problem you’re solving and position your company as an absolute authority on it. 

Your whitepaper will build trust with your leads, as well as agitate their pain points whilst showing how you can solve them. 

Whitepapers vs. Blog Posts: What’s the Difference?

Now, you might be thinking “Isn’t a whitepaper just a long blog post...?”.

Well, not quite. There are a few key differences between whitepapers and blog posts.

1. Length

Whitepapers are typically between 3000-5000 words long.

On the other hand, the optimal blog post length has been around to be somewhere around 1500 - 2500 words. Research by Medium found that the best length for most blog posts is 7 minutes, as it’s the best balance between keeping people engaged and having enough time to still provide them with useful information.  

Distinctions between Whitepapers and Blog Posts
Medium found that 7 minutes is the ideal blog post length

7 minutes reading time works out at 1600 words, for most readers.

2. Publication Location

Another key difference is the location that you publish your whitepaper compared to a blog post. 

Blog posts are be posted on your company blog, usually in a subfolder of your website. Your blog posts will be publicly available to anyone who visits the URL, and they can be indexed by Google and show up in organic search results.

A whitepaper, on the other hand, will typically be a gated piece of content only accessible via a download.

Most whitepapers are hosted as PDFs, so they can be sent to leads, or hosted on your site behind a call-to-action and used as a lead generation tool.

3. Purpose

A third key difference is the purpose of each content type. 

Blog posts will typically target one or two focus keywords, or a key question that your audience has. A blog post will match the search intent and answer it to the best the company and writer can.

A whitepaper, on the other hand, is much broader and addresses a larger problem than an individual blog post would. That’s why they’re typically much longer than blog posts.

Benefits of Using Whitepapers in B2B Marketing

Whitepapers have different benefits to blog posts as well. While blog posts’ key benefits are driving top of funnel leads and growing your search traffic by targeting relevant keywords, whitepapers are slightly different. 

Here are three key differences between whitepapers and blog posts.

1. Build Brand Authority

73% of B2B buyers say they want branded content that helps them when researching new business ideas. There's a huge opportunity for you to be that help potential customers need.

Creating an authoritative, in-depth whitepaper is going to drive new leads into your sales funnel and position your brand as an authority on a topic.

When you build authority with leads you’ll make a great case for your solution being the right one for them.

2. Improve Lead Generation

95% of buyers are willing to hand over their contact details in exchange for content.

When you’re promoting your whitepaper you can host it behind a call-to-action on your blog posts, or have a dedicated landing page for it.

Whitepapers to Improve Lead Generation
95% of buyers would exchange their contact details for valuable content

By asking for contact details in exchange for a PDF download of your whitepaper, you’ll be able to use their contact details to follow up with leads and engage with them. It’s an effective way of lead nurturing, and more natural than sending a cold email to a cold lead. 

Remember to ensure you're collecting and using personal data in a GDPR-compliant way.

3. Get Shared By Decision-Makers

Whitepapers are highly shareable assets. 

Shorter blog posts are less likely to be shared among a team of decision-makers. Whitepapers, on the other hand, will be. 

76% of B2B buyers say that whitepapers are the material they are most likely to share with colleagues, which means they’re a great way to build buy-in, particularly if you’re already targeting an account in an ABM campaign.

If you can position your brand as an authority you'll be generating buy-in from multiple decision-makers within an organization.

Tools to Create Whitepapers

Now, creating a whitepaper works a bit differently to a blog post. Most will incorporate far more design elements. You also don’t want to simply share a link to a Microsoft Word or public Google Doc with your content.

Having a professional-looking whitepaper will help build your authority, and make it more trustworthy to the reader.

Here are some tools that will help you create your whitepaper:

1. Microsoft Word/Google Docs

Considering your whitepaper will end up clocking in at least 2500+ words, you’ll need a good word processor. Google Docs is ideal as your team can write, collaborate, and review the content that will be going into your final document.

You also don’t want to be writing inside your design tools which aren’t made for long writing sessions. Word processors like these will help your team write without any issues.

2. Adobe InDesign

When it comes to putting your whitepaper together, you’ll need a design tool.

Design by MarketScale on Dribble

As your whitepaper will be shared among people within your target accounts’ organization, you need to provide a great first impression.

Adobe InDesign is one of the most popular design tools out there. It’s worth working with a dedicated designer if you want your whitepaper to look as good as possible.

How Internal Results Can Help You Create and Syndicate Your Whitepapers

If you want to use whitepapers in B2B marketing strategy, Internal Results can help.

Our team will handle promotion and offer syndication services for you to set up your whitepapers for success. Your content can be hidden behind a registration form in exchange for contact details or hosted openly for your site visitors to access.

We have verified and GDPR-ready data on 44+ million B2B decision-makers, so you can discover and target the most relevant audiences with your whitepaper.

It’s the ideal way to use your content to drive new leads and engagement with your brand.

Our advanced reporting shows you metrics on engagement levels with your whitepaper, time spent in your content, how often it gets downloaded, conversion rate, and more.

If you need help planning and executing your whitepaper creation, you can schedule a free call with one of our content experts here.

Conclusion

Whitepapers are an amazing asset for B2B marketers.

A high-quality whitepaper will help you build brand authority, help buyers make decisions, and increase the number of leads in your pipeline.

You’ll need to spend time and energy on creating a whitepaper, as they’re no small feat, but they can pay dividends in the long run.

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