What is a White Paper?
So, for anyone who doesn’t know, what is a white paper?
Short answer: they’re sort of like short E-books! A white paper is supposed to be a detailed and informative text, longer than a blog post, that goes into more depth than other kinds of online content. As we’ll move onto in a minute, they can be on a range of topics, so they’re the perfect marketing tool whether you’re B2B or B2C.
Because of their length, and the depth at which they dive into a topic, white papers are typically accompanied by plenty of data. Graphs, charts and tables are a great back-up to whatever point you’re trying to make in a white paper. They’re supposed to be technical and display expertise, while still being understandable and useful. Structurally, they’ll resemble an E-book more than a blog post: they’ll have a table of contents, page numbers and even chapters/sections.
Marketers use them as a tool, not just to draw people to a site (i.e. SEO), but to encourage people to subscribe to an email list. Again, we’ll visit this point in more depth later, but most sites offer them as a .pdf download that a customer can have for free, so long as they provide their email address.
What Can a White Paper Be About?
But is a white paper right for you?
The majority of examples you’ll see are for businesses large and small, which tend to excel when it comes to content. HubSpot are a great example. But any business can benefit from creating and publishing a white paper. Just think of what people are coming to your website for:
- If your site is for DIY, you could write a guide to the best tool manufacturers, a complete rundown of how to build your own shelving unit from scratch, or what faults to look for before you buy a house.
- If you sell catering equipment you could write a white paper on caring for cast iron pans, bulk vegan cake recipes or a guide on how to cook on a budget.
- If your site is for B2B office supplies, your white paper could be on how to improve morale in your office with plants and decorations, or quality products vs. quantity.
Truth be told, the topic on which you base your white paper could be anything, so long as it’s relevant. So long as it’s something that you know the typical visitor to your site would find useful, you’re on the right track. A key part of doing that is pitching it in a way that makes it obvious that your business has expertise on the topic, and that you’re offering unique research. If you can do both of those things together, your subscriber list will only grow from all the people signing up for your paper.
Benefits of Creating a White Paper
White papers aren’t just a longer blog post. They actually have a range of benefits beyond that which you get from normal content. Here’s a list!
- White papers build trust in you and your brand. Through your white paper, you demonstrate that your business has expertise on a particular topic.
- White papers help you to collect email addresses for your subscribers list.
- When they’re shared- which they almost certainly will be at some point, normally on LinkedIn!- more people will be exposed to your brand.
- White papers that include original research, if they’re successful, are quoted in future white papers and blog posts. Again, this exposes more people to how great you are!
Top Tips on White Papers
Writing white papers isn’t hard, so long as you have genuine expertise in your field. What can be hard is finding the time, and thinking of how to make it unique. But whether you can make the time or not, you can create a white paper for your site. Here’s how.
- If you’re too busy, commission somebody to write the white paper for you. As a rule of thumb, the more you’re willing to pay, the better quality your white paper will be. You can find content creators through freelancing sites like PeoplePerHour and Fiverr.
- Whether you’re writing the white paper or not, think of a topic and a structure before you start. Make sure that your white paper is on a topic that you know your clients or customers will be interested in.
- Once you have your white paper, the work doesn’t stop there. You have to make sure people actually download it, and the way to do that is with a dedicated landing page with your paper front and centre. A popup on your site also helps!
- Remember what we said about people quoting your white paper? Don’t wait for them to find it for themselves. Get out there and message bloggers and other influencers directly. With enough effort, one or two might include a reference or link to your paper in their next post, and drive traffic to you.
- Using internal link building is also really important. Link to your white paper through your blog, through your web pages and on all of your social media to build more traffic, but in a way that you can control.
If that’s not enough for you, you could go full hardcore: talking about your white paper at seminars and talks (which is great if you work B2B and want to make connections, too). Of course, that’s not for everyone; but with the five tips above you’ll be generating some real revenue in no time.