White papers are HOT. For years, they have been the number one lead generation tool used by buyers. Today their importance has only strengthened. Why? Because in economic times like these when money is less available - even in strongly performing industries – education is vital before a company will spend that money. Where does this education come from? Overwhelmingly, it comes from white papers.
The Buyers’ Perspective
Statistics and reports show over and over again that buyers use white papers in their purchasing decisions. A recent Eccolo Media study reviewed in B2B Magazine(1) stated “White papers remain the most effective piece of collateral, with 86% of respondents finding them moderately to highly influential in the purchasing decision.” TechTargets’ Media Consumption Benchmark Report(2) found that 80.5% of buyers find white papers to be somewhat or very effective in their decision making – this was higher than any other marketing tool. This same study also found that buyers read more white papers than any other marketing medium - up to five or more in a three month period - and that they are used both to gain awareness and decide on a solution. What happens to that white paper after it’s read? An Information Week report(3) showed 93% of buyers pass along at least half of the white papers they read. Influential, educational and viral.
What are your peers doing?
From another perspective, how are marketers getting through in this economic environment? A study sponsored by KnowlegeStorm and MarketingSherpa found that 80% of B2B marketing pros get their leads from their own website, primarily using white papers. Another study by B2B Magazine and Junta42 Match(4) shows that one third of current marketing budgets are spent on custom content creation, half of which goes to white papers.
Frankly this just scratches the surface of the information out there on white papers and their incredible, proven effectiveness in lead-generation, educating potential customers and increasing awareness of a product. Anecdotal evidence shows that even in the Nutraceutical
industry, white papers are extremely effective even if not yet highly used. I have heard from a few companies that their white papers have been powerful lead-generation tools and they could probably perform even better if they were marketed more aggressively. Other marketing experts in the industry have told me similar stories.
If You Market Properly, They Will Come
White papers, when written as a persuasive educational piece and NOT as a sales letter, are lead-generation power houses, but they can’t do all the work on their own. Aggressive marketing puts them out where your audience will find them. So, how do you aggressively market your white papers? Here are a few ideas:
- Place them on your website with a special landing page. Some evidence suggests that the best way to do this is to put just enough of the white paper on your site so that readers can view the first few paragraphs and read what your paper is about. As they scroll down, they are asked for their information (no more than name, company name and email address) in exchange for downloading the rest of the paper. This makes sure that those who download your paper are buyers who are truly interested in what it has to say – quality leads. Make sure every page of your website promotes your white paper and offers your prospects an opportunity to download it.
- But be careful not to fall prey to “post and hope” syndrome. If you just post it, they won’t come. You must market your content. Google Adwords is a great way to drum up some targeted pay-per-click advertising.
- Post your white paper to distribution sites like tradepub.com, knowledgestorm.com or findwhitepapers.com. Make sure their demographic is one you are interested in targeting. You should also place your white paper on industry sites that offer this option.
- Have your PR department or company promote the white paper; use it as a call to action for a direct mail sales letter; hand them out at trade shows and submit them to trade publications for use as articles.
- Don’t forget – www.npicenter.com is a key place to promote your new white paper and drive traffic to your lead-generating website.
There are many other options but these are a good start. Once you have a well-written white paper, the possibilities are endless. Is your lead-generation machine so well-oiled that you couldn’t use more leads?