Type a query into Google and you get millions of different answers. How many are reliable?
A good percentage are perfectly valid, while others are poorly researched or intentionally misleading.
The internet is a vast resource of information, but not all sources are credible. The world of business is no different. Some companies will just tell you what you want to hear, while others have so little grasp of what they do, they may even accidentally deceive you. So, how do you know whether to partner with another firm?
A great way to demonstrate credibility is to position your company as an industry authority.
White papers achieve this by presenting facts on a particular issue in an efficient and persuasive manner. The Content Marketing Institute reports that white papers remain one of the five most important marketing strategies for B2B businesses.
One thing a white paper should never be, however, is an obvious sales pitch. Your mission is to instruct and inform, not sell. That said, white papers can still effectively market a company and its capabilities if you remember the following:
Optimize Your Title
Keyword optimization is a crucial aspect of digital marketing. You need to choose words that will attract your intended audience in the most efficient way possible.
If you were looking for a white paper on this topic, what title would prompt you to download it? Create an eye-catching title that conveys what the paper is about and includes at least one keyword. Limit it to 70 characters as this is all that displays in search results.
Do the Work
A white paper will not fulfil its purpose unless it is well-crafted on all levels. Research the subject thoroughly and back up all claims with credible sources. The document should help readers solve a problem, not make them wonder why they don’t understand your information.
Craft the text with care. Remember that this document is meant primarily to inform, not serve as an advertisement for your services. The lure instead presents itself to the reader through the quality of the work on offer. Be clear and don’t waste words, but avoid being too casual.
Decide on keywords or key phrases and make sure to include them. However, do not stuff the text with these words or you run the risk of search engines penalties that defeat the purpose.
Carefully spellcheck and copy-edit your final draft. All your hard work is lost if you don’t demonstrate such basic care and craft. Include footnotes and a references section for both sources you cite and ones not mentioned by name in the text.
Provide Compelling Visuals
A sea of unbroken text is off-putting for many people and will cause them to stop reading. Visuals help to prevent this, while also reinforcing your main points (charts and graphs are effective in moderation.) For example, a list of statistics is easier to process and remember when presented this way instead of a block of text:
This makes the document more appealing to read, and makes readers more likely to share it with others.
Relevant images are also good at reinforcing your points. However, be careful when using stock images. Overused or irrelevant images suggest a lack of work on your part. If you can create new, high-resolution pictures, do so.
Should you choose a stock image, remember to buy it and include that version. A big watermark on a temporary image from a provider like iStock demonstrates an embarrassing lack of care.
Finish with a Strong Call to Action
A white paper that is compelling 95% of the way through can still fail from a marketing perspective without a strong finish. Encourage the reader to learn more by contacting you for more information, visiting your website, signing up for your newsletter, or following you on social media.
Create a Proper Landing Page
A white paper is something to be proud of, so don’t tuck the link away in a corner. Create a dedicated page that includes a few brief sentences about its contents, some interesting graphics, and a prominent download button.
Make It Easily Shareable
Don’t promote a white paper on a landing page with a dead download link. Be sure to test the link before making it live.
Choose a resolution that looks good, but does not take a long time to download. High-resolution graphics are great, but most people are only willing to wait so long for a document to become available to them.
Some companies provide a contact form the reader must fill out before the white paper download commences. This is an effective way to get contact information but will cause some to skip the white paper altogether. As mentioned in the Call to Action section above, there are other ways to find out who your customers are and how to contact them.