– and what can it offer you?

In today’s world of snappy video ads and shortening attention spans, explaining complex concepts, or sharing in-depth knowledge and expertise, can be a challenge. If it works, the effort often results in intensive contact with decision-makers in your target group – and therefore in sustainable, new business. One outstanding and increasingly popular way of doing it: whitepapers.

What exactly is a whitepaper?

Whitepapers are long-form written documents – typically five to 15 or even 20 pages – designed to provide the reader with new knowledge and insights on a particular topic. Originally used in the world of legislation, science, and tech innovation, the format in recent years has become a common business-to-business (B2B) marketing tool.

Whitepapers in B2B

In B2B, a whitepaper can play an important role in your prospect’s purchasing process. They are an excellent way of tapping into your prospects’ need to move beyond the promotional pitch and to receive a well-researched, detailed, and neutral outline of the topic or field in question. The purpose of a whitepaper is not to sell a product or service, but to cover its subject thoroughly from different angles, and to establish your company’s authority in the field. A good whitepaper will strengthen your brand image, build trust with readers, and, in passing, position your firm as an ideal partner to work with.

Check out our article on the 4 benefits a whitepaper can offer your company 

An example

Let’s say, you want to use a whitepaper to examine a particular market development. By comprehensively analysing the key aspects – think, for example, of current trends and market data, consumer profiles, or the latest scientific research – you can offer prospects valuable information. You may outline where you believe the market is going, provide insight into opportunities and risks, or highlight different pathways to growth. In a whitepaper, you can give your reader everything he or she needs to understand the market development in question, to make informed decisions about responding – and to involve your company in those decisions.  

The best format for depth and detail

The most obvious distinguishing feature of whitepapers is the fact that they offer more depth and detail than almost any other content format. Long-form writing may seem irrelevant in our busy world, but make no mistake. Access to neutral analyses, case studies, and reliable data is highly valuable for any player in a high-level decision-making process. In fact, research shows that B2B buyers today are taking longer to make decisions, spending more time on research, and involving more people in the process (Hughes, 2018). This means your whitepaper can provide them with a very useful service.

  • 76% of buyers say relevant content directly linked to their issues is very important to them (Hughes, 2018)
  • 78% of buyers strongly agree that the trustworthiness of data is becoming highly important (DemandGen, 2018)
  • 90% of the most successful B2B content makers prioritize the audience’s informational needs (Beets, 2018)

Does my company need a whitepaper? Check our article on when to consider a whitepaper

A good name and new leads

If a whitepaper is successful, it will not only reinforce your reputation as a market expert, it will also persuade readers that your company is a partner worth connecting with. So while content formats such as video, or short copy – think ads, e-mailings, flyers or online banners – can be effective attention grabbers, whitepapers can bring in serious leads and increase conversion rates.

Whitepapers have high returns on investment

Especially if you market your whitepaper effectively, for instance, through your social media channels, the one-off investment of having it developed will often yield high and long-lasting returns on investment (ROI):

  • On average, around 70% of readers contact the sending organization after reading a whitepaper, according to Forbes (Paunovic, 2017)
  • 76% of buyers say they would share their information in exchange for a whitepaper, the highest percentage for a content type, with only 49% for video (DemandGen, 2018)
  •  A study of Google Ads demonstrated that what you offer has the largest single impact on your conversion rate (Kim, 2019) – so by offering readers all the information they need in a single, neutral document, they are more likely to keep visiting your site, and to choose your product or service
  • Leads nurtured with relevant content can increase sales opportunities by more than 20% (Mawhinney, 2018). This means providing your reader with vital data related to their own challenges can also help increase your conversion rates.

Influencing customer decisions and performance

Whitepapers are enjoying growing popularity and appreciation in business, research shows:

  • 62% of content marketers view them as the most successful and effective type of marketing content (Content Marketing Institute, 2018)
  • 71% of buyers say they’ve read a whitepaper over the past 12 months to research purchasing decisions (DemandGen, 2018)
  • 61% of buyers say they share whitepapers with their colleagues (DemandGen, 2018)

Check our tips for maximizing lead generation with your whitepaper

Make an impact with a whitepaper

In today’s fast-paced world, whitepapers offer refreshing depth and substance, which makes them a striking and powerful form of communication. They represent a reliable way of strengthening your brand image, building connections with buyers, and generating more leads and increased conversion rates.

Interested in discussing what a whitepaper could do for your company, or how it might fit into your (communication) strategy? Get in touch with rebelieve today or take a look at some of the whitepapers we’ve produced.

REFERENCES

Beets, Lisa Murton. (2018). 2019 B2B Content Marketing Research: It Pays to Put Audience First. Retrieved from https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2018/10/research-b2b-audience/

Content Marketing Institute. (2018). B2B Content Marketing: 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America.  

DemandGen. (2018). 2018 Content Preferences Survey Report: Blogs, Podcasts Gain Interest as B2B Buyers Look To Trustworthy Sources For Credible Content That Proves Value.

Hughes, Katie. (2018). 4 Things you need to know about the B2B buyer’s journey in 2018. Equinet. Retrieved from https://www.equinetmedia.com/blog/4-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-b2b-buyers-journey-in-2018

Kim, Larry. (2019). What’s a Good Conversion Rate? (It’s Higher Than You Think). WordStream. Retrieved from https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/03/17/what-is-a-good-conversion-rate

Mawhinney, Jesse. (2018). 7 Amazingly Effective Lead Nurturing Tactics. HubSpot. Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/7-effective-lead-nurturing-tactics

Paunovic, Goran. (2017). The Most Effective Content Marketing Tool Your Strategy May Be Missing. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/06/27/the-most-effective-content-marketing-tool-your-strategy-may-be-missing/#64fd90027758