Earlier this year we published an article called 8 Essential Elements of an Effective White Paper. We broke down everything you need to add from survey transparency to data visualization. If you were left scratching your head thinking “why do I need to make a white paper in the first place?” this article is for you.
Here are 8 reasons to add white papers to your marketing strategy in 2014, based off of what we learned from adding them to ours.
White Papers Have Staying Power
Thousands of blog articles are published daily just in your industry. While their shelf lives are longer than tweets or Facebook posts, articles quickly fade back into the archives and are replaced with new content. Depending on your publishing schedule, an article that you publish today could be pushed off the main page in a matter of days or weeks.
White papers aren’t as easily buried as blog posts and are held in a higher regard than your average article. You create a separate tab on your site with resources pointing to your e-books and white papers and regularly reference their data throughout the year.
Never underestimate the power of getting labeled as a resource. A strong white paper will be added to resource libraries in industry organizations and shared with the same revere are a textbook. If you’re able to publicly provide valuable data then your white paper will spread all over websites and blogs in your industry.
People (and Google) Value Long-Form Data
The average word count for top ranked searches isn’t a paltry 500 words, it’s a robust 2, 416 words. This means you’re not going to see your organic search traffic rise by churning out the bare minimum.
People have a tendency to stick around when something is interesting and relevant to them. If your white paper offers new and detailed information, readers will click, share, and link to it.
Marketers can win over both their readers and search engines with the creation of white papers. Graham Jones explained how the two entities are intertwined:
Google understands a great deal about our website behavior and therefore knows we prefer longer items of text to shorter postings, otherwise its algorithm would prefer short items over long ones. It doesn’t do this; it does the reverse showing that people prefer long articles.
People will find your white paper helpful and search engines will realize this and respond accordingly. Google is even starting to highlight in-depth articles to bring searchers to the best possible information.
Other Industry Blogs Will Link to Your Site
CopyPress published its 2013 State of Content Marketing White Paper in early February and we are were getting mentions and pingbacks throughout October. That’s eight months of industry blogs talking about our brand and linking back to us.
On a search level, all of these external links pointing to your site tell search engines that your content is desirable and high quality, which will help search traffic.
On a personal level, this is a ringing endorsement of your brand by industry leaders. Every new pingback you get is a blog saying “I agree with this content and brand enough to link to it on my own site.”
Use these links as icebreakers to build new relationships. “Thanks for linking to our white paper, we love reading your blog and are thrilled to be mentioned on it.” You already have something to talk about.
They Position You as an Expert
No, do not skip over this section. I am not going to prattle on about white papers making you look smart. I’m going to hit you right in the quantitative data.
45.6% of respondents to our survey said that white papers are effective content marketing from an ROI perspective. They were beat only by video and featured articles but left photos, infographics, and sales copy in the dust.
Only 11.7% of respondents thought white papers are overpriced and only 16.7% thought they were difficult to create. Despite the price and perceived relative ease, only 18.9% of our respondents planned to make content marketing (including white papers) part of their 2013 content strategy.
White papers place your brand head and shoulders above the rest because while they might be easy to make, very few people are making them. You’re not beating your competitors’ white papers, your beating your competitors because you have a white paper.
The Data can be Re-Purposed
It would have been too easy to brand white papers as the gift that keeps on giving in the linking section, so let’s use that metaphor in this one.
Your white paper is a mountain of raw data that can be organized into multiple forms of content. Try a little data visualization by turning it into a infographic. Use a statistic as a base of a blog post and curate examples that meet recognize that trend.
Don’t think too hard about re-purposing content. It’s as quick and easy as tweeting out a data point when you can’t think of anything else to share on social media. Your white paper is a resource that will always be there for you.
Your Sales Department Can Share them with Leads
Your customers have a need and they’re coming to you to fill that need because they can’t fill it themselves. For example, I need an exterminator because the only bug killing I can do is with my shoe.
Let your sales department get their hands on the white paper to give to potential clients. The extra information will make them better informed about the industry and sway them towards choosing your company because of your perceived expertise.
Informed clients will help all of your departments. The white paper can teach clients about normal industry protocol and give them a feel for realistic time frames and optimal execution.
They’re Internal Resources as Well
White Papers can be a valuable resource both externally and internally. As your company starts to form partnerships with agencies and contractors to outsource services, a white paper can be a quick way to introduce them to your field.
Working with a new agency that is unfamiliar with your industry can be difficult for both parties. They’re trying to learn as much about your field as they can and you’re trying to convey your needs in a way they can understand. Reading your white paper can give agencies and contractors a feel for industry trends, the voice of your company, and any pitfalls they should look out for.
White papers can also help when on-boarding new employees. The new hire has the necessary skill-set but might not understand the field. Sharing the white paper can help bring them up to speed on challenges facing the industry and company.
At the Very Least, the Launch is a PR Opportunity
Your white paper launch can be met with the same pomp and circumstance as a product launch or e-book. This is bigger than your average piece of content, remember?
Sending out a press release to industry outlets is the first step to coverage and links. The next steps are interviews reviewing the data and guest posts explaining why you wrote the white paper in the first place. This press and attention will draw industry leaders to talk with you and potential leads to do business with you.
Remember, the whole purpose of your white paper and the surrounding publicity is to bring more sales to your company, so don’t shirk on the promotions!
We’re on the cusp of 2014 and are planning our marketing strategies for the New Year. Are white papers one of your tactics?