Some 63% of B2Bs have ranked whitepapers to be more effective than videos, e-newsletters, blogs, infographics, etc., according to the 2016 B2B Content Marketing report by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.
But are whitepapers really that effective?
An example of a successful whitepaper campaign comes from Fact-Finder. In 2013, the company launched a whitepaper campaign, aggressively publishing whitepapers to achieve maximum returns. What Fact-Finder received in return was an influx of leads that were almost too many for it to manage.
"But we learned pretty quickly how to get from those downloads to identifying our potential customers, estimate their need and pain, send sweet and nice emails, and push them into seeing our demos," Albert Pusch, marketing director at Fact-Finder, recently shared with me. "The close relation with sales was a blessing."
Here are three reasons why whitepapers should be part of your content strategy.
1. A whitepaper thoroughly explains how your relatively complex product solves a nagging problem that prospects face
Do you worry that some of your prospects don't even understand the core problem that your business solves—because it's not "that simple" to understand?
Ed Fry, general manager at Inbound.org, recently conducted a survey to see how many marketers actually understood the core function of 10 top marketing technology companies. From the results, 100% of all the 146 respondents understand what MailChimp stands for, 64% correctly said Kissmetrics is a company that provides analytics, and some 77% correctly described HubSpot as a "marketing automation" company.
On the flip side, only 43% could correctly identify a PPC company. In other words, that's 67% of 146 prospects who do not understand what the company stands for. Now that's something to reckon with. When prospects don't understand your product or service and its benefits, they simply won't buy it.
Whitepapers are created to correct issues like this. You can use whitepapers to thoroughly explain the big problem(s) your offerings solves for prospects and give them irrefutable reasons why the problem(s) "must" be solved. You make them understand why your business is important for their business.
2. A whitepaper is a helper
Unlike your typical sales page, a well-written whitepaper doesn't have a headline like "Use [our awesome product] to boost your leads and sales."
No, that's a hard sell tactic. And unless most of your prospects were prepared to buy your offerings already, a hard sell would mostly push them back.
Instead, a whitepaper comes in the form of a "helper." Instead of telling people what they should buy, a whitepaper educates them—providing information that helps them to make purchase decisions.
However, because an ideal whitepaper is created to sell something eventually, it also has a call-to-action (CTA) like a sales page. But with a little difference here.
The CTA in a sales page mostly directs prospects to a payment gateway.
The CTA in a whitepaper, however, directs people to things like a demo of your offering, a free tool, or anything that shows them a live preview of your offerings in action. This shows your customer that you want to let him take his own decision and he'll appreciate that more than your trying to make it for him.
Kissmetrics put it this way: "We need to stop trying to do our customer's job, and do ours instead. We have to decide that our goal is to help our customer see as clearly as possible how to get what he wants—if indeed we have what he wants!"
In fact, "60% of survey respondents claimed they turn down content that sounds like a sales pitch," according to AdAge. "Instead, three-fourths of respondents said they look to content for insights or ideas related to business."
3. Whitepapers stand out from the sea of content that we see today
When you create content and call it a whitepaper, report, guide, and the like, prospects want to see what's in it. Unlike other forms of content, well-written whitepapers always carry information that is pioneering and helping prospects make very important business decisions.
And nothing touches the hearts of customers like an in-depth analysis on an issue that's big to their business. For example, a SEO company can create a paper titled "Seven Google Updates You Need to Pay Attention to—And Five You're Free to Ignore."
Google Updates are one of the chief issues for folks in the SEO industry. One single update from Google can make sites drop at once or rank higher in search results. So creating an in-depth report about it is something that lots of SEOs would naturally want to see.
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Don't forget whitepapers when you craft your content strategy. Myriad marketers consider them more effective than videos, e-newsletters, blogs, and infographics.
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