Why You Should Write a White Paper

You’ve been in business for a while now and you want to share your opinion on the industry.

Most marketers will choose to use white papers. A white paper means different things in different domains.

In essence, a white paper is a detailed document that explains a solution, product, or service.

In the tech world, it’s a report that describes the logic behind the latest piece of technology.

The goal of a white paper is to persuade prospects to learn more about a specific offer. It’s a great way to display your company’s expertise and attract qualified leads.

This blog will help you decide if you should write a white paper, and if yes, how to produce one.

Table of Contents

What is a White Paper?

Should You Write a White Paper?

Benefits of a White Paper

How to Write a White Paper

Research

Structure of a White Paper

Should You Use PDF?

Promoting Your White Paper

What is a White Paper?

A white paper is a piece of content that uses statistics and technical jargon. A white paper has to be authoritative because it must build trust and credibility.

This is one of the ways it differs from other types of content, like blogs or articles. It establishes its authority by using a lot of numbers and technical language. Therefore, a white paper is not made for casual reading.

A white paper is not a piece of promotional copy. Don’t try to convince your readers to buy your product/service this instant.

Rather a white paper proves your expertise by offering valuable information.

This makes white papers great lead magnets.

Should You Write a White Paper?

Just because you can write a white paper doesn’t mean you should. White papers are not appropriate for every business.

Your local coffee shop doesn’t need to write a white paper about the latest trends in the coffee industry. While interesting, it doesn’t mean a whole lot to your customers – they only want to drink your coffee.

But, a dental practice can benefit from a white paper on the prevention and management of periodontal diseases.

This valuable piece of content achieves two important goals:

  • It sheds light on an important topic
  • It presents the dental practice as experts in the field of periodontal diseases

An insightful white paper on this topic would attract more customers. If the practice has “a free consultation” offer, this white paper would be useful to drive traffic.

Benefits of a White Paper

Writing a white paper isn’t easy. It’s more difficult than writing a blog post. So why should you bother writing a white paper?

The short answer is because your marketing will become more productive.

Modern consumers are discerning. As a result, they invest a lot of their time researching and comparing products/services. In other words, they want to be familiar with their options before making a purchase.

So, it’s unlikely that people visiting your website for the first time will convert –  only between 2% to 3% do.

It’s especially challenging in the B2B space with 2.23% conversion rates.

This is why white papers are important. Marketers use them to improve conversions by offering in-depth content on a topic.

According to a Demand Gen study, 71% of B2B buyers rely on white papers to address business challenges.

So, by establishing authority in your field, you drive more leads and sales. People will be more willing to look into your brand if you offer them effective solutions.

White papers discuss a problem in detail and provide the company’s solution at the end.

You have to be careful here because the focus of a white paper is to educate rather than sell.

If you come off as salesy, then you’ll most likely leave a bad impression on your readers. Not only will this lower your conversion rates, but it will tarnish your brand’s image.

Instead, concentrate on educating your readers about the topic.

How to Write a White Paper

White papers need serious commitment on your part. It may take months to produce a compelling white paper.

After all, it is a report that contains your distilled research on a topic.

Don’t let this discourage you! White papers may not sound like the most interesting content, but they can be when done right.

A white paper is a powerful marketing tool that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bland report.

There are ways to make your white paper into a forceful piece of content.

Let’s look at how you can spruce up your white paper into a report that will push your audience to action.

Come Up with an Objective

Before you begin writing your white paper, establish what you want to achieve.

This will make your white paper focused so that your content isn’t scattered all over the place. Having one goal in mind will help you choose the right topic.

Businesses write white papers with one of the following goals:

  • Attract qualified leads
  • Nurture leads
  • Establish authority in the field
  • Increase sales

So, let’s assume that you want to generate more qualified leads for your business. In that case, you want to pick a topic that addresses a common problem in your field.

Be sure to show how your product/service solves it.

Research

This is the most important part, but it can be tricky. You have to do thorough research before you write your white paper. This means unverified claims can’t go into your white paper. Since this is an authoritative piece of content, use credible sources, which include:

  • Websites of government agencies
  • Academic papers
  • Industry research reports: Take a look at Forrester and Gartner to find relevant data.
  • Surveys and polls

If you want to make your white paper stand out from the rest, then do your own research.

Data from your own research is something that your competitors don’t have. This will help establish your business as a leader in the field.

Coming up with your own data doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. It can be as simple as setting up a survey for your target audience. Include questions that’ll give you data about their needs, goals, and challenges.

You will also get information that will improve your messaging and customer experience.

Surveys will provide information that is of interest to your audience.

Use An Answer Engine

If you want a more powerful search engine than Google, give Wolfram Alpha a try. If you’re unfamiliar with the tool, it’s an answer engine that responds to factual queries.

So, instead of providing a list of websites that might contain the relevant data, Wolfram Alpha itself calculates the answer.

This is a search engine for data and facts that spans across many fields:

  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Social Sciences

Make sure to take advantage of this incredible resource. They have tons of guides to help you get around.

Interview

If you can, try setting up an interview with an expert. Interviewing an expert in your field is a proven way to get reliable content. Many experts almost always use jargon-laden language when discussing industry trends. This is your chance to make their analysis more accessible.

Structure of a White Paper

There isn’t a formal set of requirements that make a document a white paper.

However, I strongly suggest that you come up with an outline before you start writing the first draft. Your white paper should be made up of the following parts:

  • Title
  • Summary
  • Introduction
  • Sections
  • Sidebars
  • Conclusion

Every white paper must contain a title page and a table of contents. A brief introduction that gives an overview of the content is standard practice. Then a few pages analysing the problem and a few more discussing a solution. You should also dedicate several pages to an example of how your offer solved the problem. Finally, wrap things up with a conclusion.

Use an outline to guide you as you’re writing so that you don’t veer off-topic. It also makes sure that the text flows smoothly so that readers can follow along.

Pro Tip: Interesting but non-critical information should be placed in a shaded box to the side called a sidebar. As a result, your readers won’t be distracted from the main text.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the components that make up a compelling white paper.

Title

This is the first thing that the reader will see. It should be captivating while conveying a clear benefit to the reader. Why should they read the white paper? Make sure that the benefit is realistic and that you follow through. If your title is, “5 Ways Our Service Delivers Faster Shipments,” then describe those 5 ways in detail.

Introduction

Spend some time writing a captivating introduction. You want to hook your readers right away. Let them know what they’ll learn and accomplish after reading the white paper.

Ideal Length

Between 8 – 10 pages, but no fewer than 6. This includes images, charts, tables, and other illustrations. In some industries, white papers can come close to 50 pages.

Tone

Use a professional tone with impeccable grammar.

Table of Contents

A list of topics will help readers navigate your white paper.

Visuals

A text-heavy white paper will discourage people from reading it. Use charts, tables, and graphs to illustrate your findings. Appealing visuals will keep your readers engaged. Make sure to include a stunning cover design to grab the attention of your audience.

Should You Use PDF?

Most companies publish their white papers in a PDF format. But, this is a mistake because more than 50% of internet users are on mobile devices.

PDFs are from the earlier ’90s which are difficult to view on smaller screens. And yet, so many white papers are presented in that format.

This means that 50% of internet users are not going to read your white paper.

To make matters worse, you can’t collect data on PDFs. So, you won’t be able to improve the white paper based on user data.

Luckily, there are interactive white paper templates that do all this and more. You can collect data, optimise content, and build great-looking white papers with these templates.

Promoting Your White Paper

Since you’ve invested all this energy into writing a white paper, you should promote it properly.

Many companies don’t take the time to actually promote it. Instead, they try to publish it as soon as possible.

I’ve come across tons of valuable white papers that are just sitting on a website without getting the proper attention.

And all because the business didn’t put in the effort to let their audience know about it.

Social Media

Use social media, email marketing campaigns, search marketing to spread the word.

In fact, consider running some paid ads to increase awareness about the white paper.

Why run ads for a free piece of content?

Well, remember that a white paper is a powerful lead magnet.

Finally, take snippets out of your white paper and share them across social media to pique the audience’s interest.

Landing Page

You can place your white paper in several places, but a dedicated landing page is the best option.

You can build optimised landing pages that look great with tools like Instapage and Unbounce.

Wrapping Up

A white paper is chock-full of data and useful tips, which is why you should have an outline before writing.

Then, start writing and get all the information down on paper. Don’t fret about the formatting when writing your first draft.

Once you finish writing your white paper, have your colleagues, friends, and family take a look. A fresh set of eyes will identify any mistakes you might have missed.

Edit for content as well as for grammar. Ask your editors to tell you whether:

  • You have covered all the bases? Are there any important bits of information that have been left out?
  • Everything is accurate? Ask them to fact-check your white paper.
  • The subsections are logically connected? This will improve the readability of the white paper.

If you don’t have access to an editor, then use apps like Grammarly or Hemingway to keep your writing clear.

Read the text out loud to spot any awkward sounding sentences. Many writers paste their text into Google Translate to hear possible run-on sentences.

The discussed tips will help you write professional white papers that build credibility. You’ll attract qualified leads while highlighting your company’s expertise and building trust.

Next Steps

A well-written white paper contains valuable content that you should repurpose.

Each section of your white paper could easily make up an entire blog post. Explore each section further in your blog post and link back to your white paper. This way you will also help raise awareness about the white paper.

You can also share your findings, like stats, in your social media posts.

If you host webinars or do public speaking, then use your research as a topic for your upcoming events.