You sometimes find comments around the web that white papers are no longer the useful content marketing tool they once were. However, research suggests otherwise.
Since 2009, Eccolo Media has conducted an annual survey of approximately 500 C-level, execs, vice presidents, managers, directors, developers/ programmers, and technicians about what marketing materials they use in their research and decision process. White papers have consistently scored the highest as the most influential document in purchasing decisions.
In March 2012, UBMTech asked 240 technology makers what kind of information they want during the decision process. 64% of respondents wanted information supported by facts and figures – which, of course, is what a white paper is.
Still concerned over the performance of your white papers?
First off, review the basics:
- Make sure your white papers contain solid content – not opinion and not sales information.
- Present the information in a format that is easy to read. Use lots of white space, call-out boxes and other techniques to create attractive and readable papers.
- Check in with your target audience: what kind of information would they find helpful?
In some industries, poorly written white papers have affected how people view all white papers. If your audience has gone stale on the idea of white papers, Bob Bly suggests you consider calling them something else:
- Special report
- Executive briefing
- Selection guide
- Buyer’s guide
The lesson? No matter what you call it, make sure you provide something that your audience needs or wants to know and people will value it.