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Do people actually read white papers?
White papers have become the #1 most valuable piece of content in the B2B buyer’s journey. Statistics from a recent Forbes article confirm it.
- 89% of B2B buyers use the Internet in their research process.
- 75% of B2B buyers said that a winning vendor’s content had a significant impact on their choice.
- 82% of B2B buyers rely heavily on white papers (#1) in making their purchasing decisions. Other content incudes:
- Webinars (78%)
- Case studies (73%)
- E-books (67%)
- Infographics and blog posts (66%)
In this article, we wanted to cover our 10 best practices for writing successful writing papers.
1. Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-Sensitive) goals for the white paper
Do you want your audience to visit your website, learn more about your solutions, schedule a demo, join a webinar, call you for a quote? Whatever the action is that you want them to take, determine it – and tell them to do it at the end of the white paper (see #8 – “Have a clear call to action”).
2. Start with an outline
It seems simple, but writing an outline is the best way to organize your thoughts and ensure that you are telling a compelling, thoughtful story.
3. Determine key words (to drive search engine results)
Whenever you develop content, you should think about it from the audience’s perspective. What words would they use when they are performing an Internet search on this subject? If possible, use those keywords in your title, subtitle, and body of the white paper.
4. Address your target audience’s pain points in the introduction
Some people will not have time to read the entire white paper (or want to). It is important to write an introduction that captures their interest. Discuss your prospects’ pain points and how the white paper will provide solutions.
5. Include unique, research-driven content
B2B buyers are reading your white paper to become better educated. Teach them something new. Whether you have primary research from customers, secondary research from a number of public/private sources, or best practices from years of experience, share them. Your audience will see you and your company as experts they can trust.
6. Don’t be salesy
Your audience is in research-mode – they want to learn. Win them over by providing valuable insights and a solution to their problem. Introduce your capabilities in a short overview about your company – AT THE END – but not before (see #9 – Add a short overview about your company at the end).
7. Insert visuals to break up the text
Your content is always the most important part, but you don’t want your readers to get bored. Use relevant images and add charts and graphs to show statistics and trends. Create a graphic in PowerPoint and upload it as a JPG. Add a quote in a text box with a colored background.
8. Put your logo and website URL in the footer
You are not making a sales pitch in your white paper, but you can – and should – promote your company in subtle ways.
9. Have a clear call-to-action (CTA)
Whether you want the audience to visit your website, schedule a demo, or call you for more information, specify it at the end – in bold. For example:
“To learn more about our solutions, go to www.mycompany.com/solutions or call us anytime at 1-800-244-5500.”
10. Add a short paragraph on your company at the end
After the call to action, write a short summary of your business, including capabilities that address the pain points in the white paper.