How to Use White Papers for Lead Generation

How to Use White Papers for Lead Generation

In Market Research by Shelly KramerLeave a Comment

If you’re looking for B2B leads, it’s time to start writing, since publishing a white paper is considered one of the best ways to get leads for business. In fact, one survey found that about 60 percent of respondents said white papers are a valuable way to generate new leads. That’s because a high-quality white paper has the ability to grab the attention of your audience, gain their trust, build credibility, and gradually move leads through the funnel. If you’re interested in these benefits of white papers, check out how to get started writing and promoting them to get leads.

Choose a Topic That Will Appeal to Your Target Audience

The point of the white paper is to provide a solution to a problem your audience has. This means you’ll need to do some research, starting with who your target audience is. If you want to generate leads with the white paper, make sure you write about a topic of interest to the people you hope will eventually become your customers.

For example, if you sell printers, your best leads will be people who are in the market to buy one or more printers in the near future. Think about the concerns they might have as they get ready to buy a printer. They might be wondering how to choose the best product, which features they need in a printer, or when the right time to buy is. Give them the information they want and you’ll have a chance of them coming back to you when it’s time to buy.

Keep the Content Informative, Not Sales-Focused

This is not the time to try to sell readers on your services. You’re positioning your brand as a trusted resource and a thought leader in your industry, which will in turn create a relationship with your target audience. More specifically, you want to appeal to people who are in the early to middle stages of the customer journey, as they’re gathering information before making a purchase. So at this point, your goal is to provide a valuable resource through a white paper that is full of information your readers can use.

To that end, make sure the paper contains clear, detailed explanations supported by facts, including charts, diagrams, graphs, and links to credible sources. Consider using case studies from your company as examples, as this type of source not only backs up your points, but also shows what your business can do. Not surprisingly, your white paper shouldn’t be too short if you expect to fit everything in, so strive for about eight pages for this piece of long-form content.

Promote Your White Paper Through Multiple Channels

Now that you have an informative white paper, it’s time to let people know about it. Use every channel you have access to in order to promote your paper and generate leads, such as the following:

Email. White papers are most often used as assets for lead generation campaigns. Build your campaign around the topic the white paper addresses and distribute it to your opt-in email list. Provide some intriguing details, such as a shocking statistic or graph, followed by a link where they can download the paper in the email. 

Your website. Your white paper should live on your website, complete with its own landing page. Your above-mentioned email campaign can drive traffic to that landing page, which is where you want to provide them with a quick summary of what information the white paper will deliver and make it easy to download, with only a few required form fills. If you’re smart, you’ll use a product like ReachForce (which we love), which allows you to keep required form fills super simple and ultimately leads to more conversions. Data shows that the fewer required fields your forms offer up, the greater your conversion rate.

Social media. After email, one of the best promotional tools for your white paper is social media channels. Of course, you have to have devoted time and effort to building a following in the social media space for this to really pay off. Provided you’ve done that, share that link to the landing page where the white paper “lives” on your various social media channels. Do it more than once or twice, because that’s not nearly enough to capture attention given the amount of noise in social media streams. For greater attention and effectiveness, you can pin your posts featuring the white paper to the top of your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages. You can also put a budget behind your white paper campaign and actually pay for exposure to highly targeted audiences on those social media platforms. The more results you want, the more money you should plan on spending to make that happen. Be sure to include a related image (or even a video) with the link so you be sure to grab as much attention as possible. Data shows that posts with images on Facebook have at least 37 percent more engagement than those without.

Blog posts. You should always write a blog post on the topic covered in your white paper and publish it on your corporate blog, as well as on your LinkedIn profile.. The purpose of this post is marketing, plain and simple: It should pique the interest of your readers, and entice them to want to learn more. In fact, the copy used in your blog post or any other vehicle you’re using to promote and market the white paper is equally as important, and sometimes even harder to write, than the white paper resource itself.

Video. You can’t go wrong with video these days, as 79 percent of respondents in one study said they would rather watch a video than read. So make a video based on some of the information in your white paper, and then upload it to your corporate YouTube channel, feature it on your website, and embed it in the aforementioned blog post.

Other websites: You don’t have to limit your white paper promotions to your own website, social pages, and email list. You can do some homework and explore whether the content is a fit for other websites that might allow you to submit a guest post on the topic of the white paper with an included CTA for download.  You can also write a press release about your newly published white paper and use PR distribution services to give it some extra reach.

Ads: Another way to get more eyes on your white paper is to structure an AdWords campaign around the topic of the white paper. Put a budget behind the campaign and see if you can get some traction (and some downloads) as a result.

Far too often companies large and small invest in the development of white papers and other valuable assets that nobody ever sees. They forget that creating the asset is the easy part. Getting anyone to read it? That’s the tough part. That takes commitment, creativity, great writing, planning, sometimes a paid budget, and a great deal of attention.  If you’re willing to do the things mentioned above, chances are good your white paper will deliver the results you seek.

What about you? Have you published any white papers for lead generation? If so, do you have any interesting ways to promote this type of content that we’ve not discussed? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one.