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November 29, 2016 (Updated: March 2, 2020)
Some of our clients are curious about our white papers, but they aren’t sure what to do with them and see the results they planned. Often, our clients look for a B2B white paper without considering the strategy around its creation. The content creation aspect is only the beginning of the process.
If you publish a white paper and then archive it, you will never see the traffic, links, and ROI value that you hoped to achieve. To help with this problem, we created a B2B white paper content strategy example to show you exactly how your company can use this tool for long-term promotional benefits.
Image via Flickr by mike.morrison88
While the white paper is the first part of the marketing process, the product itself is at the bottom part of the sales funnel. In many cases, the B2B white paper should be the last element that drives readers to contact you to learn more information or request a product demo. People are reading your white paper because they want to know whether you’re an expert in your field and if you have products or services that will offer value.
Too often, marketers approach white papers with a top-of-funnel mentality. Remember: You want to send quality traffic to your white paper. Driving thousands of readers to your content is nice, but what happens when they bounce off your site after a few seconds? What are the odds that audiences who don’t read past the introductory paragraph are going to sign up for a consultation or demo?
The rest of your marketing tactics will serve to filter out qualified and unqualified traffic, but you need to make sure that your B2B white paper is the last selling tool that will convince customers to contact your sales team. Conversely, your sales team should also use the content as a tool when talking to leads close to the edge of conversion or signing a contract. When someone discovers your white paper, all roads should lead to conversions.
Once you have the B2B white paper published, your goal is to drive traffic to that content and slowly move leads down the sales funnel until they convert to a sale based on the white paper offering. Often, companies make the mistake of promoting their white papers by sharing links on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. They might generate a few likes, but they rarely experience the traffic they intended.
Instead, we recommend creating an infographic that presents the details of the white paper in a visual way. This graphic treatment allows you to better connect with audiences on social media channels while also allowing you to break down the infographic into digestible pieces.
Social media traffic is typically a top-of-funnel focus. The goal is to get people to visit your site and keep them there. Once they digest your infographic, suggest that they learn more by reading your white paper. This suggestion will filter out the unqualified traffic while the qualified traffic moves to the lead generation part of the content cycle.
Social media is a great way to generate top-of-funnel search traffic in the short run, but your audiences will quickly grow weary if they see the same promotional post days and weeks later. Consider that you’re also talking to the same audiences on social media and essentially targeting people who are already familiar with your brand. In order to expand, you need an outreach strategy.
Outreach goes by multiple names, from guest posting to influencer marketing. Whatever name or strategy you use, the goal is the same: Position your name and content in front of industry peers who have audiences that would care about your message. For example, if your white paper covers project organization strategy, you want as many business professionals and managers to read it as possible.
Not only will your outreach strategy continue to drive traffic to your infographic and white paper long after they’re published, but it will also generate links to your website. The eventual goal is for audiences to find your content organically in search results instead of through your marketing efforts. This traffic tends to be more qualified as long as you’re ranking for relevant words and phrases.
While most digital marketers follow these main steps in their B2B white paper strategy, you might want to take advantage of additional advertising opportunities. These tools might work for your industry in particular — that is, if you have an established audience — or could be a way to experiment with promotions to learn where in the funnel your customers stand.
For example, some brands with established webinar, podcast, or video audiences dedicate a session to discussing the findings of the white paper. Like the infographic, these avenues offer great opportunities to take something that’s long form and dense and simplify it in a way that’s conversational for the audience. Ideally, you try to reach mid-funnel audiences who know about your product and industry so that they can ask informed questions throughout the discussion. Another company might use Slideshare to digest the content if its team is unable to produce infographics.
Launching a white paper that fails is better than launching a white paper and failing to track its performance. Even a failed white paper gives you the base metrics for improvement — and you always have to start somewhere.
As you launch each of these marketing strategies, make sure your record those strategies and track your KPIs over time. For the infographic, you might track social media shares, traffic, and eventually organic links to the content. For a white paper, you should track leads generated, sales, and ROI. Depending on the place in the funnel and the goals for each part of the strategy, you should have set goals and the ability to track your progress against them.
Infographics have the power to drive traffic and leads months after you publish them, but you have to create a strategy first. If you don’t invest in your white paper, then it won’t provide the results you want.
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