How to include a white paper in your marketing strategy

Is white paper marketing worth your time and energy?

An excellent question. Creating a white paper is a big time sink, whether you’re doing it yourself or briefing content writers and designers. To commit, you need to understand how white papers in marketing work and the value they can deliver.

We can help you with that. Keep reading to learn:

  • white papers’ role in marketing
  • the value they deliver 
  • when to include them
  • where to publish them
  • how to distribute them 
  • different white paper formats  

So, when you’re ready to publish your white paper, it will reach the right people, leave a lasting impression and help you achieve your marketing goals. 

Let’s get stuck in.

Where do white papers sit in the content marketing funnel?

Most of the time, white papers sit at the top of the funnel (TOFU). Here, there’s little or no reference to the business’ products or services. And the goal is to drive brand awareness by educating the reader on a relevant subject.

Sometimes, white papers are middle of the funnel content (MOFU) - the topic directly relates to a business’ products or services. The business isn’t pushing for a hard sell. It’s helping readers compare and contrast, or make a decision by encouraging them along the buying cycle. 

What’s the role of white papers in marketing? 

Understanding how your white paper will work with your marketing strategy helps you position it in the right funnel.

The first thing to nail down is your goal. What do you want to achieve with your white paper? Planning this in advance gives you direction and purpose. It could be to:

  • Build brand awareness (TOFU) 
  • Position your business as an expert (TOFU)
  • Get new email subscribers (MOFU)
  • Teach prospects about your products or services (MOFU)
  • Drive traffic to your website (MOFU)
  • Keep users on your pages for longer (MOFU)

Then consider if your white paper will fit into your wider marketing strategy. If so, it should be the showstopper. Because an article may have brought prospects to your website but it’s a white paper that has the potential to make them want to stay. 

Finally, get clear on how you’ll measure success. For example, if you want to build your credibility as a thought leader, you might track how many times your white paper was shared or mentioned on social media. 

Does your marketing strategy need a white paper? 

Hell to the yes! White papers in marketing tend to offer more value than an article, infographic or the like. Especially when they decode complex ideas or introduce new and exciting concepts. 

White papers help you:

  • Deliver on your promise to be a major source of industry knowledge
  • Add value to your products and services (especially How To white papers)
  • Create a timeless piece of content you can share over and over
  • Stimulate other businesses to collaborate with you 

They are also proven lead generation tools. 75% of B2B buyers say they would share information about themselves and their company in exchange for a white paper. 

When should you use one?

It’s not about waiting for the right time to publish your whitepaper. Planning a topic that’s distinctive and relevant to your audiences and the market should be your focus. 

But the timing has got to be right for your wider marketing strategy. Which is why thinking ahead is important. 

Create a roadmap for your content. Remember, your white paper is the piest de resistance. It should come after smaller pieces and be promoted early

Elevate white paper marketing by reaching out to people and influencers in your industry on social media. Tell them you’ve got something really exciting coming up, then drip-feed teasers to keep them hungry for more.

Bonus: social shares are seen as a ranking signal by Google, boosting your search position. 

You could also use timed pop-ups to get eyes on your white paper. For instance, if a user spends more than thirty seconds on your blog, this can trigger a pop-up, meaning people who are engaged on the topic will see your ad. 

Where should you publish white papers?

White papers in marketing are commonly offered via gated content on a landing page. So you can capture emails and send follow-ups to nurture leads. Here’s an example of a follow-up email I recently received after downloading a white paper:

But how do you get users onto your landing page? First, figure out where your audience is by looking at historical data of past campaigns and by analysing your customer personas.

Also, consider offline distribution channels. Perhaps your audience is more likely to be in a networking industry group than on Twitter. 

An omni-channel approach is usually best to target a large audience. Businesses that adopt omni-channel strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to businesses that don’t.

What format should you use? 

There are two options: your white paper format could be PDF or HTML.

Making your white paper available as web content (HTML or CSS output) has significant benefits.

1. You increase accessibility since the user doesn’t have to download your content

2. You gain better organic search results because Google will recommend a web page over a PDF 

3. Readers can interact with call-to-actions, forms and pop-ups more easily

4. It’s more optimised for mobile as a PDF often requires pinching and zooming to read 

The downside to HTML as a white paper format is that you need some technical knowledge to get it set up. Either that or hire someone who can do it for you. It may be worth the extra effort for those perks. 

White paper marketing sussed! 

You’ve uncovered the mysteries of white paper marketing. Now you can succeed when offering your baby to the world (a white paper that is, not your child). To recap, you’ve learnt:

  • white papers’ role in marketing
  • the value they deliver 
  • when to include them
  • where to publish them
  • how to distribute them
  • different white paper formats  

If you haven’t created your white paper, we recommend this easy-to-follow guide which includes a free white paper template.

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