How to Amp Up the B2B Lead Generation Power of Your White Papers
Presented on April 17, 2014
Do you use white papers to generate sales leads for your products or services? According to a recent KoMarketing Associates survey, white papers are amongst the top content B2B buyers want to see on a vendor’s website, second only to thorough contact information. White papers can be a very effective means for B2B companies to generate leads, with conversion rates as high as 20%.
How can you amp up your lead generation by increasing B2B white paper downloads? During this webinar, Marketing Mojo’s Tad Miller, Vice President of Accounts, and Kari Rippetoe, Content Marketing Manager, will show you why white papers work for B2B and share best practices for getting the most value from them.
Jenny: Welcome and thank you for coming to today’s webinar, How to Amp Up the B2B Lead Generation Part of Your White Papers. I’m Jenny Degraff, design optimization manager at Marketing Mojo. I’ll be serving as your moderator for today’s webinar. Before we get started, I have a few reminders. There will be a Q & A session at the end of today’s webinar so if you have any questions for our presenters, please enter them into the GoToWebinar questions box on the right of your screen. Also, as always we are recording this webinar and once the full recording is available you will receive a follow-up e-mail which is usually by Monday at the latest. Finally, we encourage you to tweet about today’s presentation using the hashtag #mojowebinar plus you can also follow us on Twitter @MarketingMojo. And now, I would like to introduce you to today’s presenters.
Tad Miller is vice president of accounts at Marketing Mojo where he works directly with clients to manage and execute their search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, and online marketing strategies. Tad has a broad spectrum of search marketing experience in working with Fortune 500 companies, pharmaceutical companies, OEM, automotive manufacturers and small start-up online businesses to significantly improve their natural search engine rankings. Tad has also managed over a $35 million of search marketing budgets for clients with a proven record in conversion optimization through strategic bit management, budget reallocation, and landing page design and testing.
Kari Rippetoe is content marketing manager at Marketing Mojo. She helps clients develop compelling content pieces for search optimization and lead generation. She has over 12 years experience with search, social media, email, and content marketing on both the client and agency level. Kari has also managed online marketing strategies and campaigns for a variety of companies and organizations including Liquidity Services Inc. and the National Trust for Historic Preservation and has spoken at several events and seminars.
Originally founded as Search Mojo in 2005, Marketing Mojo is a full service, data driven digital marketing and demand generation agency helping marketers to achieve their own online marketing goals through search marketing, paid media, content marketing, and marketing automation. Marketing Mojo is headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia and we also have an office in Charleston, South Carolina. We have been featured in several marketing publications and blogs. We also speak at several conferences including SMX, MarketingProfs B2B Forum, Demandcon, and Pubcon. We work with a variety of brands in the B2B, B2C, and non-profit sectors.
And before I hand it over to Tad, I have a quick poll for you to take. OK. Are your white papers currently a part of your content marketing strategy? Yes, we were already creating white papers or we were planning white papers but don’t have any created yet. Last choice, we are not using white papers but we are considering it. Great, so it looks like everybody is already using white papers so that’s wonderful. And now Tad will get started and talking more about these great white papers.
Tad: Thanks, Jenny. Let’s get started. Why white papers? Well white papers are primarily for businesses and were talking about B2B kind of marketing collateral here. Consumer products generally have brochures but were talking strictly B2B with this. And we are talking about complex products, solutions or services. Yeah, there can be a B2B sale of one hundred mops to a factory but that’s not really what we are about here. We are talking about complex sales that are a lot simpler or more complex than just the simple purchase. So these aren’t things that just immediately can be added to a shopping cart online. We are talking about things that have a sales process. There is a dedicated inside sales force usually and there’s a whole market being funnel where you’re looking at needs, targets, prospects and eventually sales. Your product or your service or your solution is usually a major commitment for your customers.
Often times we are talking about products that require a year’s commitment or a contract being signed or total system overhauls for your business. These require training hours and obviously sometimes it requires a major financial commitment so again it’s not mops we are selling. Sometimes it’s complete system overhauls for a lot of purchasers of your company. And we are talking about a very long sales cycle in some cases. Here’s some marketing Sherpa [SP] data from a few years ago some companies have a six month sale process so you are talking about something that’s not going to happen overnight. You need something to get your foot in the door and start working on these potential customers in that long sales cycle. That’s what one reason white papers are really great to get your foot in the door.
So you got to have those qualified sales leads because of the nature of your sale these people aren’t immediately ready to buy. We are talking strictly about bringing people to that lead funnel that are just leads. Usually it’s there not ready to buy, there — it’s a complex situation. They’re not going to immediately purchase. So why white papers? They are a very low friction asset. They’re almost always free and they provide valuable information to your customers that they should be interested in and typically, they’re the easiest B2B lead to acquire with the highest volume so it should be easy to get a form completion from your white papers.
Another reason, they make you look smart to potential customers. They can show you a thought leader in your industry. They can build authority for your company and your speakers. They can build trust with your potential customers. Most of all they show you’re an expert that can solve problems for your company or the customer. And again, in these long sale cycles, sometimes you don’t want to be forgotten. If you have a six-month sales cycle, a white paper that gets re-introduced perhaps they came in on a white paper but you can even give them a new white paper on a new topic to nurture these leads down the path to a good mutual sale. So I’ll transition it over to Kari right now.
Kari: Great. Thank you so much, Tad. So Tad talked a lot about why you would want to use white papers for lead generation. I’m just going to expand upon that a little bit more, talk about some benefits of white papers. So first of all, as Tad mentioned, they’re really great for building authority, building your company as a thought leader. So the key, however, is helping readers to understand a problem or issue. So that’s where you have the opportunity to really establish yourself as a thought leader when it comes to a particular topic within your industry and helping people to understand a particular issue that they have or solve a particular problem that they have. And you can see here from this Dilbert cartoon, it kind of illustrates that if there are white papers on creating policies for developing procedures and then ultimately what procedure for finding white papers?
So that’s what they need. They need a white paper to solve this obvious problem that they have. Also white papers provide valuable and utilitarian information. So they make excellent top of funnel and middle of funnel content. As I mentioned before, they can help someone understand an issue. They provide a solution to a problem and help them to research a possible purchase. So right as someone is researching solutions to certain a business problem, you have a white paper to help them with that but the key is to provide them with useful information and while you can use your own data and experiences to back up the information in your white paper, it really should be a no sales pitch zone.
Now as I mentioned in the last slide white papers make great top and middle content so there fantastic for demand and lead generation. There was a Forbes.com and Tech Target survey of IT managers that showed why they read white papers and these are the top three reasons: 69% use them to get information about new products and vendors; 50% use them to compare products; and 42% use them to help justify buying decisions. So you can see here that all of these allude to researching and buying a product or service. So what makes an effective white paper?
Well before we can really answer that question, we need to first define what exactly a white paper is anyway. So let’s look at a few definitions. There are several that exist out there for white papers. First one according to Wikipedia is an authoritative report or guide helping readers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision. This next one comes from that Whitepaperguide. com – a persuasive essay sponsored as a piece of marketing content by an organization. Well that is absolutely true, it is marketing content. And according to Purdue University, purpose of a white paper is to advocate that a certain position is the best way to go or that a certain solution is best for a particular problem.
So all of these are valid definitions pertaining to white papers used for marketing purposes but there are certain keywords in these definitions to keep in mind when creating your white papers. A white paper should be authoritative. It should solve a problem. It should be persuasive. And it should advocate a certain position. So given these definitions we can now talk about the elements of an effective white paper. So as I mentioned and Tad has already discussed as well, a white paper needs to be authoritative. You’re positioning your company as the expert on a particular topic but you need to take a certain position on the topic and persuade readers that what you are advocating is the best way to go.
However, like I mentioned before this is not a pure sales pitch. You also need to provide useful and valuable information that will help readers to solve a problem or better understand an issue. Then to make it even more credible, you are going to want to back that up with as much as you can in the way of research and data. So you have your own data then that will certainly help to stake your claim on the topic because it’s proprietary research and data. However, external research that can back up your position will work as well. Let’s talk about creating white papers in just four easy steps and I’m being a bit facetious there. I’m sure you read a lot of content out there, lots of blog posts, lots of guides, etc., etc. with four easy steps or ten easy things you can do right now.
But we all know, and I’m a content marketer as well, it’s just not that easy, but hopefully this process that I’m going to go through now is going to make it a little bit easier for you because it can be pretty time intensive. So first of all, you want to ask who is the audience? Well you need to know obviously the roles of the decision make and answers. Know what their pain points are and know what their top questions regarding your solutions. So I actually came across a tweet earlier this week and so basically if you don’t know your audience and personas you can see here your readers don’t want content, they want solutions to problems. So if you don’t know what their pain points are, you don’t know your personas then your white papers are probably going to be pretty blanch.
So here, you can actually see an example of a mapping and now I have to give credit where credit is due. This is something that was developed personas and key rings of insight by our friend Adele Revella over at the Buyer Persona Institute. She’s really the utmost expert on buyer persona development. I highly recommend that you go and visit her website and take a look at some of the resources there but this part of what she goes through in the buyer persona development process and this will help you to kind of visualize during each step of the buying cycle who the key personas are for your particular product or service and then the key rings of insight that she’s coined for each of those buyer personas, what is that they need to know about your product or service that will help them to make a decision?
So, if you’ll take a look at this graph white papers are consumed mainly during the initial sales phase. So this is pretty recent research here. You can see 36% is when they are reading white papers when they need to understand. They have a problem and they need to understand more about it and how they can solve that problem. But you can also that a pretty good portion of them are also consuming white papers at pre-sales and the mid-sales phase. So if we go back to our buying cycle and persona mapping here then the best places to present a white paper, to use white papers during these three steps in the buying cycle.
So the next thing you want to ask yourself is what will it be about? So there are several approaches: the first one taking a side in a debate; discussing best practices; you can use white papers to provide a product background or briefing; and you can also offer a solution to the challenge. So now I am just going to go through each one of those in a little bit more detail. So when you are taking a side in a debate in your white papers, you want to think about what hot button issues exist in your industry and on which side of the fence you fall. So again, white papers go back to something we have been really emphasizing during this webinar is that they are authority builders. And so if you are taking a side in a particular hot button issue in your industry and you’re explaining your side in the debate, you might have some of your perspective customers agree with you, and so they are looking to you as a thought leader in that particular topic.
Next approach you can take is discussing best practices in your white papers. So this can also be related to taking a side in a debate so there might be an issue regarding best practices for, you know, something in your industry and so then you can use this opportunity in your white paper to talk about the best practices that you implement at your company regarding your products and services. You are conveying valuable information on the best way to do something within your industry and so that helps to build authority on the topic. Next way to use white papers, you can provide some sort of product briefing. So as Tad had mentioned at the beginning of the webinar that are a lot of products that have long complex sales processes but that’s mainly because they are very technical products.
So it’s probably very helpful to use a white paper to explain your product, explain how it works. This is an example here. This is one of our clients called Cheap Suit America and these are some of their white papers here. You can see some of the topics that they are talking about in their white papers, so designing meaningful lithium ion abuse tests and energy efficient lighting: a compendium of global energy efficiency regulations and programs for lighting products. These are all really technical complex industry issues. So white papers are really great way to explain these and to give a better background and help someone to understand a particular issue.
Then you can also use white papers to offer solution to a challenge. So this is where you really want to know your buyer personas and their pain points because by knowing what challenges they have and then you’re able to provide some sort of solution to that challenge. This is an example here. This is a white paper that we created. You may have downloaded it as well as part of this webinar but what we’re talking about here is a challenge that B2B marketers have with high cost per lead through paid search. So that’s what the white paper is generally about this challenge and we are addressing that challenge with various solutions that they might want to consider.
So the next one you want to ask when developing your white papers, “What data do you available?” I touched on this earlier. You can use your own company’s data which could be aggregate from across different clients that you have or you could use data from a specific customer that you have. And then you can also use external research to lend some additional credibility and you can see here, data is really the foundation for an effective white paper. So you got highly productive but useless guy here and in the Dilbert cartoon. He has created a white paper but he doesn’t know how to do statistics but that doesn’t matter because I didn’t have any data. Well how effective is this white paper really going to be at that point?
So that’s really going to be key for your white papers but think about what kind of data you have available and then also look outside of your own company to find some good data as well. And then what can you possibly repurpose? So this is going to make your job a whole lot of heck easier when creating white papers. If you can look at what kind of content you already have that you can use to gather data or to pull from for your white papers, then it’s going to make creating them much easier. So if you have any case studies that you can reference in your white papers, blog posts that have information that you maybe some internal subject matter experts have written and any other webinars that you have done. You can turn webinars into white papers. You might, you know, use some additional information but definitely think about doing that.
Any conference presentations that someone at your company has given and then you can turn into a white paper. Podcasts, just think about all the content that you have that you can possibly re-purpose and I’ll show you an example here. So Tad here actually wrote a blogpost back in 2012 about LinkedIn advertising. He’s actually going to be talking about it in just a minute. That in turn this was based on this customer, this client of ours who had particular success with LinkedIn ads. So based on all of that, we did this webinar back when we were Search Mojo. We did this webinar which is actually one of our most popular webinars on our website.
From that, we created a LinkedIn agency checklist and then we came up with this white paper as well. We’ve managed to take the blog posts and turn it into one, two, three, four additional pieces of content. Let me just show you this particular white paper how it breaks down so it presents a challenge, it’s backed by research. We were using some external research from a company called [inaudible 00:22:14] and this is just one of piece of research that we used for this white paper. It offers a solution with useful information and it presents data as validation so we have a case study, the science logic case study that we actually used in all data that came from all the months of running LinkedIn ads that we used to kind of prove the point.
So how long should your white papers be? Well, it’s really kind of hard to determine that. It really depends because I’ve seen white papers as long as 30 pages and it depends on the approach you are taking. It depends on what you are trying to convey. You might have a really technical product that you might have to spend 10 pages trying to explain it and putting in all the details and but it really should be somewhere between five and ten pages. But think you audience and think about the kind of content that they like to consume and what goes over best with them. They might like shorter content but for a white paper, you really shouldn’t go any less than five pages. Before I turn it over to Tad, I believe Jenny has another poll for us.
Jenny: Yes, thank you, Kari. We do have another poll before we start talking about how to promote your white paper. We want to know if you already are promoting your white papers and on what channels: Google, Bing ads, social media, other or you’re just using white papers. The results are most people are primarily using social media. So, Tad is now going to talk about all the different great methods of promoting white papers.
Tad: Thanks, Jenny. All right. Let’s talk about achieving scale with your white paper leads. Just because you write it doesn’t mean people are ever going to find your white paper. It really requires distribution channels. It’s not a Field of Dreams situation like the movie where you build the baseball field and the hall of famers come out of the corn. That’s just not going to happen. Start with your free distribution channels first. Use SEO Best Practices on your download page and post to those social channels – Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus. If you are doing e-mail marketing, obviously do that through your existing customer base or your existing lead database. I need to talk mostly here about the way to increase the volume and the scale of those white paper leads. And as Kari already mentioned earlier and even hinted to, you know, paying per scale is really what we were talking about here. You need to really establish how much you are willing to pay for a lead for your white papers.
Typically the higher the cost and the bigger commitment for your product or service the higher your cost per lead tends to be, so you really need to determine the channels that are the most effective for you. And surprise, LinkedIn we have found to be the best B2B white paper lead generation marketing channel. But there’s some differences here. We really advocate the self-serve advertising option and not the display by, so you can create the perfect marketing audience to see your white papers within LinkedIn. You can do location targeting, company targeting, job title targeting. Skills have been very interesting for us as well and the most effective group membership within LinkedIn. Age and gender are also factors that we track and eventually can refine spending budgets on but these really allow you to create the perfect audience to see your ads to promote your white papers.
Additionally, LinkedIn has scale. Now this is a statistic from the end of last year, 277 million members worldwide were in LinkedIn and every two seconds there is a brand new LinkedIn member and 187 million monthly unique visitors. I’m going to go back a slide. You can see in the upper right hand corner of that targeting, currently just within the United States, there are 104 million plus LinkedIn members. So it’s absolutely got the scale you’re looking for in terms of achieving reach to your target audience. It’s the best audience you’re really going to find when it comes to B2B products. Typically a lot of the products that require white papers are really niche audiences. They tend to be small to start with. If you think about who the decision makers within the companies that would need your product or service, those niches are even smaller. So LinkedIn really offers the best chance to get ads in front of the decision makers and do so at the greatest scale you are ever going to be able to achieve in any kind of online advertising.
Here’s something I really love about advertising on LinkedIn. Online marketing is one of the few fields where you can fail the majority of the time and still be considered successful. But just because you failed to convert someone on your landing page with a LinkedIn campaign doesn’t mean you have to be done with them. You can put Google AdWords remarketing code or Facebook remarketing code on your landing pages and you can essentially acquire audiences from LinkedIn to advertise on those particular channels. Simple, it’s just code placement. So you can set up these remarketing audiences pretty easily within your ad platforms. Here’s how you would do it within Google AdWords. You can set a membership duration of your remarketing audience for up to 540 days and we absolutely recommend doing this.
You’re paying for this audience on LinkedIn and they are perfect audience to have. With the user remarketing ad, you could use the Google display network and eventually if you even get a thousand people in your remarketing list, you can do what they call remarketing list through search advertising and use that as sort of a filtering mechanism for your keyword advertising but tagging your URLs on your landing page is so you can identify these unique LinkedIn audiences is key to this and keeping them in that membership duration for 540 days is essential to expanding your remarketing advertising and using these LinkedIn audiences effectively over time. So here’s our formula for combining LinkedIn and display remarketing. Use LinkedIn targeting with the scale of the remarketing on the biggest display network in the world and the biggest social network in the world. Once you acquire these audiences they are yours to advertise to over that 540-day duration and it doesn’t have to be any one specific offer.
You can offer a brand new white paper. You can advertise your next webinar. You can give them any useful data that might keep them in your sales funnel and move them down the path to becoming an eventual customer. And you can even make the direct sales pitch. Doing this will get you to the scale you need. All right. Additionally without remarketing, the Google display network has actually been very effective at driving white paper leads for our customers. Targeting the search interests in the last 30 days has been particularly effective. There are over I want to say under 3,000 different search interests in the Google display network. They essentially look at the searcher’s history over the last 30 days to see if they have an interest in specific products or services.
As you can see on the right hand side of the graphic I have here, there are some B2B ones that are quite niche and we have used them before quite effectively. So it’s not the all display network that used to just choose a website placement, there are all kinds of filtering options that you can do. Topic of the website, you can now advertise to specific ages or genders and their search interests and remarketing and you can do them all in combination. So combining targeting methods is another effective super niche way of using the Google display network to hit your target audience. I got to warn you, this will give you small audience but a super targeted one. And we found that even if you have a very small reach, bidding high still gets you what you need for lead generation and the display network using these tactics.
Display advertising is actually more cost effective than using the Google search network right now. In these enterprise level keyword segments, cost per click are getting incredibly expensive – 20, 30, 50 dollars a click for some types of keywords. We look at a keyword like marketing automation software. It is ranged anywhere from $50 a click to over $75 a click in the last few months. So any kind of enterprise level software or really technical long term commitment sale, typically has really high competition and really high cost per click. So using the display network is relatively cheap way to hit the same audiences. You can easily take lower search rates and lower conversion rate on the display network right now and your cost per lead will be exponentially cheaper than the search network right now.
But I think in my professional opinion, you still need to give search a chance. It shouldn’t be your line of attack or even your second line of attack in trying to get white paper downloads. Most searcher intent really isn’t on finding white papers so usually the way advertisers approach trying to get white paper downloads is to advertise on a segment keyword like enterprise monitoring software. OK. So that ends up being sort of what we call “instead of offer”. They were looking for one thing and instead you get them a white paper on something that is sort of related. This can be sort of effective. But we are of the opinion that you need to try it and compete and see how it does. It doesn’t have to be your first budget line item where you put most of your emphasis.
So how well does LinkedIn work? This is our own agency aggregate level data coming up and it’s been incredibly effective for us. We have delivered a 12% conversion rate across all of our B2B clients that have advertise white papers in the last year. We have seen even better results than that. I’ve got a lot of data here but you can go to the bottom and click through to see our latest case study on that. We have achieved even as much as 20% or more conversion rates using LinkedIn advertising to get white paper downloads for our customers. We have case studies where we have clients that have surpassed their previous 15 months paper click advertising on Google in a just mere six weeks in terms of delivering white paper leads. We’ve had even 1500% better conversion rates than AdWords advertising for the same exact white papers, honestly. That’s also delivered exponentially cheaper cost per lead.
In the particular example we’ve got in our case study, we delivered 217% more paper leads than the previous 15 months combined than AdWords advertising did and we did it for 82% less budget that was spent on BBC in those previous 15 months. So we have got a lot of great results with this tactic and it’s really achieving the most scale at a targeted way that you will really ever achieve with your white paper lead generation. So our closing points today: use white papers for lead generation and those complex costly high commitment sales that have really long sale cycles. Your white papers need to take a position on issues. They have to solve problems for readers and they really need to validate your position with data whether that’s your own data or someone else’s data. They have to be data-centric.
Most importantly, they have to make you look authoritative to your potential buyers. LinkedIn self-serve ad are the best mechanism for really achieving scale in your white paper lead generation. Secondary methods might include display advertising or retargeting and search advertising. And that’s all we have.
Jenny: Thanks, Tad. We’ll be taking some of your questions in just a moment. So make sure to enter them into the questions box in your Go To webinar panel. In the meantime, if you would like to connect today’s presenters, Tad Miller and Karir Ripatto (SP), you can find their Twitter and Google Plus information here. And here at Marketing Mojo, we provide digital marketing services like the ones that Tad and Kari talked about today including content marketing and paid media management to help you promote your content.
So if you are looking for help on any of these areas you can talk with Janet [inaudible 00:37:47] Miller whose contact information is shown here. And now let’s take some questions. OK, so for our first question, “we are going to ask how to converts blogs to white paper, what would you recommend in taking your blog posts and converting them into great white papers?”
Kari: Well, really when you are using blog posts, you’re utilizing the expertise of your internal experts so that’s really going to be a really great way to get information for your white papers is to leverage the expertise that you have within your company. So blog posts — for instance within our company, a lot of our internal experts almost everyone here writes for our blog and they share their experiences because they have expertise in so many different areas, so that’s where you’re able to take a blogpost that may be written by an internal SME and use the information that they have given to help supplement the information that’s in your white paper.
Not necessarily saying to just pull it word for word but you can use some of that information, build upon it in other ways because you might not have the same expertise that someone else in your company does. So that’s where you might be able to take some of the blog posts that you have written. If you go back to the example that we showed, everything including this webinar, this webinar and other webinars we have done, white paper that we have done. so many pieces of content that we have done here at Marketing Mojo all stems back to a blog post that Tad did back in 2012, so that’s really how blog posts can blossom into so many different pieces of content.
Jenny: Thanks, Kari. This next question, probably a good one for Tad to answer, we have someone who has tried LinkedIn ads before and they got the amount impressions that they were promised by LinkedIn but didn’t really deliver much in way of white paper downloads so they want to know what the difference between how you are having success and what LinkedIn does?
Tad: OK. What the person is talking about is media buy with LinkedIn ads. Typically, LinkedIn requires a $25,000 quarterly commitment and it’s a pay based on impression situations. So you are getting eyeballs on banner ads and typically the links you might see at the top of LinkedIn but they almost always require you to expand your audience targeting, usually outside the niche that you really want to target and you don’t get the results that you are looking for based on that. There’s really no involvement from LinkedIn outside of making sure you hit your promised impression level. They’re not really not optimizing to what the results of white paper campaign actually generates. There is no LinkedIn conversion pixel. You have to have Google analytics to really see and track your results. We look at these things every day. We reallocate budget, change bids.
We are looking at analytics to do the optimization and we are targeting a lot tighter than LinkedIn usually does. I think that is first reason why we typically always get better results. The second reason is the cost is exponentially higher with a LinkedIn media buy. We recently had a client that did a media buy with LinkedIn. And of course, they never give you the cost click in these types of media buys. It’s cost for impression but if you do the math, that one ended up being an over $90 cost per click situation. If you’re paying $90 per click, you’re never going to realize return on investment.
Our aggregate level average cost per click on LinkedIn right now is just under $7 per click which is obviously much cheaper, much more affordable, and we’ve never really seen any metering or limit on the number of impressions we get compared to the people who do the media buy on LinkedIn. So cost per click is better, targeting is usually a lot tighter. That’s why we typically get a lot better results than the quarterly media buy you would with LinkedIn ad situation.
Jenny: OK. Thank you, Tad. Our next question goes to Kari. Early on in the presentation, you talked about making white papers a sales pitch free zone. But would you recommend not including some end contact information to learn more later or maybe like a really soft pitch ad in those in some way?
Kari: That’s a great question because ultimately your white papers are a marketing piece for your company. So what I mean when I say a sales pitch free zone is not to make it the focus of the white papers. So if you have some language at the end where it kind of ties things up and it offers in a couple of lines your services that talks about if you would like to learn more, you know get in touch with us, that’s fine. Just don’t make it the focus of the entire white paper where it all just comes back to everything that you do.
Like I mentioned and like Tad has mentioned, it just needs to provide as much valuable information to help solve a person’s problem and help them understand an issue because it’s really kind of that top of funnel to middle of funnel area where you’re presenting, you’re giving them a white paper that it does need to help them compare vendors and make a decision. But it needs to present authoritative information so that they can compare and evaluate the vendors. So I think that what you’re talking about is fine, just don’t make it the sole focus of the white paper.
Jenny: Thanks, Kari. We have a question about, I guess, advertising white papers on social media in general. We have one person ask, “My company doesn’t use much social media like LinkedIn or Facebook. Is this a disadvantage for generating leads or getting our white papers out to leads?”
Tad: I’ll take this one. Yeah, I think it is a little bit of a disadvantage. At a bare minimum, you know you can build a good remarketing audience based on your social media ads targeting that you can use later for remarketing. But if you have a long sales cycle, say if you are in that position of having a six month sale cycle from initial contact to sale, it’s a good way to cycle in your latest content assets to hopefully get people interested again and drive them down the funnel. They are pretty cost effective means of advertising right now too given the targeting.
Facebook is obviously a lot more consumer oriented but it’s getting more targeting options for either the type of audiences and then you know they are working on some job title targeting as well. That’s really effective especially if you’re trying to get decision makers. So yeah, it’s a relatively cost of entry. I would definitely do it first before I would do any AdWords search advertising just based on the cost per click basis and the targeting options.
Jenny: Thanks, Tad. And our last question to wrap it up, “We just wanted to clarify the difference between a white paper, a guide, or an eBook because they all seem to be relatively similar.”
Kari: Yeah and there really isn’t an industry standard for white papers. But I would say that the main difference is going to be – well, OK, the two main differences: the length. So guides and eBooks can probably be a lot longer, whereas white papers probably you want to keep them between five to ten pages if you can. But I think the other differences is that white papers have a lot more data and I think there is definitely certain approaches that you want to take with a white paper that you might not necessarily take with a guide or an eBook.
For instance, explaining your product in detail, explaining your service in detail. Something that is highly technical. Just keep in mind that the main point of a white paper is to help someone solve a problem or understand an issue and you can do that with an eBook or a guide but I just think that this is a lot more data driven and it’s probably a little bit shorter than the other two formats.
Jenny: Thanks, Kari and thank you, Tad. Thank you all for coming today and joining us on this webinar. That’s all we have time for today but we hope to see everybody again soon.