It’s no secret that a good content marketing strategy can increase brand awareness, drive qualified leads and generate new business. The phrase ‘content is king’ has been bandied around for almost five years, with the majority of businesses now placing content at the heart of their digital strategy.
However, simply creating content and generating a lot of it is not going to get you that new business and won’t provide the ROI you’re looking for.
An optimised website, a business blog, some press releases and social media activity are a fantastic start but just that – a start. Long-form thought-leadership content, particularly whitepapers, can set you apart from your competitors and provide a hugely effective and sustainable pipeline in driving new business. Here we explain how.
What is a Whitepaper?
Originally, a whitepaper was a government report that addressed issues or problems and presented solutions – i.e. proposals for new policies or legislation.
Although still used for this purpose today, whitepapers have evolved into valuable B2B marketing tools. They allow a business to explain a complex process in detail, to explore a problem and offer a solution, or to highlight new information using data. Different to a blog post or e-book, whitepapers can be more technical, more in-depth and generally take longer to produce.
Whitepapers are not meant to be salesy – no sales hype means the content is held to be more credible, there is more trust established with the reader and it opens the door to a genuine conversation with an informed potential client.
Top 10 Benefits of a Whitepaper
1. Explain Complexity: Businesses specialising in complex and very technical products often need to educate potential clients while ensuring they don’t drop off in the process. As an educational piece of content, your whitepaper can provide answers to help prospects make their decision, allowing them to digest this information in their own time without feeling pressured by sales staff.
2. Sales Collateral: Although a whitepaper shouldn’t be salesy in nature, it can certainly be used as a piece of sales collateral. In fact, its educational nature comes across as a more genuine piece of content, striking a positive impression with potential clients. A printed and bound version of your whitepaper is a very impressive asset to hand out in meetings.
3. Collect Data: To download your whitepaper, typically visitors fill in a form on a landing page. Collecting this data means you’re building a mailing list of prospects that have already interacted with your brand and consumed your content. You can install software that tracks how much of the whitepaper your readers consume, giving you a better idea of how engaged they are.
4. SEO, PR & Linkbuilding: Creating your whitepaper is the first step, you then need to promote and amplify it. The role of PR is crucial here. Start with a press release and explore other ways to get that content out there. For example, take snippets of the whitepaper and turn these into thought leadership articles to pitch to relevant press; work with influencers, bloggers or journalists to review the whitepaper and share their opinions with their audience, offer journalists an exclusive quote or follow-up article. The list goes on. In exchange for this PR coverage, you’d be receiving backlinks to the landing page, which drives traffic to your site, strengthens your backlink portfolio and builds up your domain authority.
5. Social Media: It can be difficult for a B2B company to create interesting social media content. A quality whitepaper practically does this for you. You can take out snippets and quotes from the whitepaper to create posts, images and GIFs, sharing engaging content that will grab your audience’s attention and take them to your site.
6. Email: Whether you’re using a marketing automation platform like Hubspot, or doing everything manually, email marketing plays a crucial role in driving leads through the sales pipeline. Share your whitepaper via a promotional email and use this content on your newsletter.
7. Blog Content: Take topics from your whitepaper and turn these into smaller or related blog posts, with a link to the landing page for those that want to read more. This gives you more chances to be found, to rank for keywords, and attract your target audience.
8. Paid Media: Via Google AdWords, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter ads, the content of your whitepaper can form the basis of a good paid media campaign that doesn’t outwardly sell your product. You’ll have more chances of someone clicking on your ad who may just be looking for the answers your whitepaper is providing.
9. Speaking & Webinars: Your whitepaper could make for a great seminar, webinar or video. Don’t feel restricted to using the whitepaper content only on your whitepaper but let this be the start of a much bigger conversation and networking opportunity.
10. Thought Leader: Create continuously great content and you’ll establish your brand as the expert voice in your field that journalists and bloggers turn to when they need a quote. Gain a competitive advantage and your brand becomes the obvious choice.
Creating a whitepaper is time consuming, and that’s only the beginning. To make this successful and reap the rewards, you need a campaign built around it. It should be handled by the experts so that nothing is left to chance.
1. Narrow down your target audience
2. Identify your topic
3. Formulate a research plan
4. Plan your content
5. Create your campaign
It can be educational. It can be ground-breaking. It can offer something no one has seen before. It can simplify a complex issue. It’ll have your prospects nodding in agreement as they read it because you answer the questions they have. If you would like us to email you some recent whitepapers we have created for clients, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01625511966.