Turn Your Content Strategy Into A Money Making Machine With Whitepaper Reports
Almost nobody buys a product on the first visit to a website. In fact, the average conversion rate across industries for first-time website visitors is a mere 2% to 3%.
People spend time researching, comparing, and understanding their options, before making decisions of what they should buy, and where it’s most convenient for them to get hold of it.
This means 97% of your website traffic is not buying – even though you spent hours perfecting landing pages and thousands to drive traffic to it.
With the advent of the websites, blogging, social media, and a myriad of digital communications channels, the path to purchase is not a simple, straight line, but a complex and varied web of twists and turns and touch points.
While the buyer’s journey for every product and service can be quite different, research from the Marketing Lead Management Report indicates that on average, prospects receive ten marketing touches from the time they enter the top of funnel until they’re a closed won customers.
According to the Online Marketing Institute, one reason it takes a multitude of touches to generate a sales-ready lead is the sheer amount of information required to deem a lead sales-ready: Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe (BANT).
It often takes several touches for a consumer to make the choice to request information, and even more for marketing to gather the information needed to determine if a lead is ready to be passed to sales.
At the early stages in the buyer’s journey, consumers are often merely gathering information and building awareness about your products and services. Often, these interactions are not in-depth enough to provide the information necessary to qualify a lead.
Today’s consumers are also increasingly immune to traditional advertising and sales methodologies, meaning they conduct more independent research and take more convincing before they’re sold on making a purchase.
Boosting your website conversion rates and sales by helping people to make decisions faster would result in far better profits for you – not so?
Whitepapers, guides and reports can greatly support you increasing the initial conversion rate.
Newer content mediums fail to convey the big picture, whereas whitepapers offer a balanced perspective by providing well-researched data and viable solutions to common problems.
Whitepapers are unbeatable when it comes to
- Building credibility
- Offering solutions
- Providing smart analysis
- Being objective
- Establishing thought leadership
- Illustrating product benefits
- Generating leads
- Ultimately converting customers
What’s A Whitepaper?
A whitepaper is a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report or guide on a specific topic that presents truthful facts and evidence when addressing issues or a problem – and then provides a particular methodology or solution to resolve these problems.
Traditionally occurring in two spheres: government and business-to-business (B2B) marketing, people use whitepapers to build their knowledge of a subject or concern they need more insight on before making a decision or planning their next move.
Because, whitepapers are particularly detailed and informative – acting as advanced problem-solving guides with the goal to inform and persuade, and educating and helping people make decisions – they are written by industry experts.
A Whitepaper Is A Powerful Marketing Tool
Whitepapers are a popular tool in business-to-business communications and as a content marketing tactic.
According to the study by Marketing Profs and Junta42 Content Marketing Institute, “B2B Content Marketing: 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends,” 43% of marketers use whitepapers to reach and retain customers.
- Marketers often use whitepapers to establish thought leadership and to competitively position their product or solution in the marketplace
- Customers like reading whitepapers because they learn more about a product, service, method or tactic and find answers to nagging problems
The main reason why whitepapers work, is because they offer authentic and truthful educational content. It walks the thin line between education and promotion, perfectly positioning your business as a thought leader while providing answers to various industry or product matters at the same time.
Whitepapers may not be the newest platform for the distribution of informational content but they certainly are one of the most effective marketing tools that many business environments have thrived off of.
Benefits Of A Whitepaper
Good whitepapers deliver far more than just conversion increases.
- Whitepapers address the right problems, engage the reader with persuasive language, and incorporate visual elements to accommodate research
- Whitepapers have a high conversion rate as compared to other methods – the combination of learning followed by persuasion makes them one of the most powerful marketing tools available
- Help people understand what solutions are available to their problems and more about the company(s) that can help them solve it – displaying the company credentials and expertise in that field
- Because it’s a reference guide readers/customers will see the company as a helpful, detail-oriented, credible source
- Whitepapers contain a strong urge for readers to take action on their problems
- Spread awareness among audiences about your company
- Create a better and stronger brand image
- Build trust, authority and credibility
- Establish your company as a thought-leader in the space
- Allow you to reach out to other partners who can help your business scale faster
- Great for sales teams, helping the company, product or service build credibility and trust with readers
- Can significantly increase traffic and social reach, build relationships and, most importantly, generate leads and sales
- Leads generated by whitepapers are generally very stable and reliable – which means a loyal lifetime customer
- Drive engagement on social media – a great way to share whitepaper content with followers
- Help your site attract more attention and links, which might generate more organic traffic back to your site
The Biggest Benefit of All….
If Content is King… then… Context Is God
Now more than ever, great content is predicated on context. It addresses the big picture of your reader’s daily life, profession and world. Once you’ve articulated that, the product you’re selling and its attendant benefits naturally follow.
Most importantly, you achieve credibility by showing your reader that you “get it.” That you understand exactly what s/he goes through. YOu understand their pain ad is there to help.
Establishing context helps establishing credibility.
How Long Will It Take Till The Whitepaper WIll Be Published?
Since whitepapers are the academic papers of marketing content, and readers expecting a high degree of expertise backed by solid research that’s fully documented by references – whitepapers require more thought, research and sometimes credible inputs from third parties, which all take time to artfully and skillfully put together.
Therefore production thereof can take up anything from between a few weeks and a few months to complete.
Cover design: Needless to say, it needs to look the part and draw people’s attention – professional graphic designers are hired to do the job.
Length: No fewer than six pages, including illustrations, charts, and references – and can be upwards of 100 if the topic requires that much detail.
Structure: It contains of a title page, table of contents, introduction, several pages educating the reader about the problem, several pages hypothesising a solution, several pages offering an example of a company that used that solution (via its products and services) to achieve results, a conclusion and call to action. And while white papers are mostly text-based, they often include hard stats, graphs, charts, and links to substantiate the claims you’re making.
Tone: Professional, serious, well written, and well edited.
Style: Well designed page layouts, images, fonts, and colors.
Content: Packed with valuable information and explain how the reader can make good use of that information.
Case Studies: A case study is essentially the story of a customer’s success reaching a goal as a result of using a product or service, conveyed through certain metrics the customer has agreed to be measured on. And depending on how technical or complex the service is that they received, the more research and detail other potential customers will want to see as they continue their buyer’s journey.
CTA: Listing the next steps readers need to take to achieve their desired outcome. A subtle prompt to do something about it, try a free demo of your product, contact the sales team, visit a website or just follow on social media.
Published Format: Downloadable A4 PDF in portrait orientation.
A press release, news release, media release, press statement or video release is a written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something ostensibly newsworthy.
- Drive visibility and credibility
- Boost brand’s discoverability
- Maximise results for campaigns
- Links within the release will lead traffic to your site
- Findable by search engines like Google and Bing
Through All Your Own Channels
- Host it on a landing page on your website
- Share it via your social media channels
- Send out a keyword-optimised press release announcing its availability and where prospects can find it
- Email it to new prospects
- Distribute to current email database and ask them to share it
- Hand it out at trade shows and conferences
- Develop speeches from the whitepaper for presentation at industry events
- Use it as an educational resource for employees
- Use it as informational literature for sales calls
- Pitch the whitepaper to relevant newsletters, trade journals, and magazines
- Webinars also provide a great opportunity to discuss the content of the whitepaper with others and gain important feedback
- Do a podcast around it
Consider The 5 Stages of the Customer Buying Cycle
The content you share is fully dependent on the product you offer and the profile of your customers, but there are basic commonalities on how to market the whitepaper in each stage of the buying cycle:
Awareness: Customer identification of a need and the realisation that your business can potentially fulfill it. Whitepapers create ample awareness of the problem and how it can solve it. For the majority of sites, this comes about being found via search engine marketing, particularly PPC and SEO. Use the right keywords derived from your whitepaper for SEO.
Consideration: Once customers find you in search engines, keyword-tailored landing pages are of the essence to present your whitepaper. The content landing page “sells” the content. It does not sell the product. It needs to persuade the reader to accept the content (whitepaper). It needs to tell how they stand to benefit when they read it. It’s an integral part of the process of guiding leads through your funnel until they decide they want to talk to sales, or buy the product. Customer will then evaluate how your offering meets their need, including the evaluation of offerings from others. The better informed the whitepaper, the better the customer can consider your offer.
Preference/Intent: A customer’s logical and emotional inclination towards one solution or another, ultimately leading to a purchasing decision. Your whitepaper addresses emotional triggers for customers to prefer your offering over others – simply because you are transparent, authentic and a thought leader on the concern.
Purchase: The action of ordering and buying. Offer good deals, vouchers and discounts.
Repurchase: The emotional and logical process that leads to a repeat purchase. Here the product must show and prove it can do the job as described in the whitepaper or there will be no repeat orders. Your reputation is on the line here which will influence future buying decisions of customer and their word of mouth endorsements – or voicing their dissatisfaction of your offering.
Keep in contact with your customers via scheduled emails, social media, and personal outreach. Offer a monthly subscription service for the product.
White Papers Are Evolving, Not Going Away
More than two-thirds of all marketers use whitepapers as a marketing tactic, making them an essential part of the marketer’s toolkit.
Whitepapers are the purest form of marketing content when it comes to providing buyers with a holistic, balanced perspective. But off course, as more modern types of content emerge, whitepapers will always adapt.
It’s thus not a question of how relevant whitepapers are – this is not in dispute, they have always been an essential content offering – it’s how engaging they are put together.
Everyone knows that in the second decade of the 21st Century, ads are largely ignored by consumers especially Millennials, due to their overly “salesperson-like” qualities. Instead, consumers tend to value objective studies replete with facts and figures and devoid of all the blustery sales rhetoric.
Whitepapers fit this bill quite nicely while also positioning companies as thought leaders by educating their prospects.
By making the core information relatable to the consumer, while still maintaining the independence of the research, businesses can make credible and unbiased points about the value of their products and services