Where do whitepapers fit in a marketing world dominated by 15 second TikTok videos and clickbait headlines that are designed to grab our attention from the word go? The answer actually is pretty straightforward: At the bottom of your marketing funnel.
Specifically, a whitepaper should come in after you’ve created enough content to get B2B buyers past the stages of awareness and consideration, and nudge them from preference over into purchase.
If snackable fun facts on social media are the bait, then whitepapers are the hook and sinker that helps you reel the B2B customers in. After all, when was the last time your customers signed off on a 7-figure project after reading your LinkedIn update? Social media posts are great for creating buzz and awareness, but you’ll need something more substantial to move your customers from liking to buying.
Nearly 8 in 10 B2B buyers describe the purchasing process as “very difficult”. Short social media posts that do not go in-depth hardly make that process easier.Gartner, The Future of B2B Buying Journey Report
Marketers (even the ones in B2B marketing) have obsessed over speed for so long that they’ve forgotten about the importance of pushing incoming traffic further down the pipeline. There’s a reason why social media content is often likened to an elevator pitch. It gets the passerby to stop, listen, and follow you into your meeting room. Focusing on speed alone means directing all your attention to the elevator part and none to the meeting room where deals are made.
What a good B2B whitepaper should contain
Potential B2B clients who take time out of their day to read your whitepaper want to be convinced to buy your product. This is when you’ll want to present complex theories (simply!) and detailed explanations (understandably!) that were deemed too long-winded for short-form content. If you can back up your content with scientific studies and social proof, even better. Give your buyers evidence that investing in your product or service will be worthwhile.
The most successful B2B content marketers in 2022 were more likely to have used case studies, white papers, and research reports as part of their marketing strategy.Content Marketing Institute, 12th Annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks
But even as you’re stuffing your whitepaper with facts and figures, keep in mind that you have the uphill task of holding your reader’s attention across not 280 characters or even 1,000 words, but over 15 whole pages (possibly more). If that sounds like a tall order, that’s because it is. But in the copywriting business, that’s our bread and butter, which is why we’ve compiled a non-exhaustive list of must-have ingredients that we think should be included in any whitepaper for your perusal.
Visuals and illustrations
Scientific journals aren’t fun to read for the average person, especially not B2B buyers who are pressed for time to make a decision. Beyond just breaking up walls of text, well executed pictures, graphics, and charts will stick in the mind of your buyers and drive home the point about exactly how your product can solve their pain points.
Statistics and figures
Don’t just go out there finding statistics that fit your narrative. Pick the latest, most relevant statistics that relate to the topic at hand and use them to lead your narrative. Even statistics that are as recent as 2019 may already be irrelevant because of how much our people’s habits and perceptions have changed since the pandemic, so choose wisely. And don’t think that your audience won’t check out your sources, either. The evidence is always just one click away.
The big picture argument
Your B2B prospects are probably also considering other competitor options while they read your whitepaper. So you’ll want to provide them with balanced perspectives and comparisons that build your credibility. While this will involve selling your solution to some extent, keep in mind that the bulk of your argument should be geared towards being informative. Thinly veiled sales pitches are a sure-fire way to turn off buyers who are so close to making a purchase.
Simple language and storytelling
We recently wrote a comprehensive whitepaper on the verbose betaprutal contraptions that required a lot of graphs and figures to get the point across. Just kidding. The word betaprutal doesn’t actually exist! But the perplexity you felt while reading that sentence is exactly how some B2B buyers feel when they read whitepapers. Remember, not everyone has the expertise to understand technical jargon, even if they happen to work in your industry. A combination of simple language, storytelling, and personal touch can go a long way in ensuring that your readers stick with you to the end.
How whitepapers benefit your content marketing funnel
Research reports and whitepapers are the 2nd and 4th most successful
B2B content assets in the Content Marketing Institute’s 2022 Report.
If you’re asking yourself whether writing a whitepaper is worth the effort, you might want to consider the fact that whitepapers can help populate other sections of your lead funnel as well. As long as your whitepaper has sufficient meat on it, you’ll have plenty of statistics and soundbites to splice into social media posts, infographics, blog posts, and even your next pitch deck.
But even on its own, gated whitepapers are a great way to get website traffic to stick. As long as you’re able to provide valuable information, visitors will be more than willing to hand over their contact details to keep in touch with you for future collaborations. In other words, whitepapers are a terrific long-term move for both content and lead pipelines.
Keep in touch with us for steady leads and content pipelines
We don’t have a whitepaper to offer you (yet!), but if what you’ve read so far resonates with how you’d like to present yourself to potential clients, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or better yet, fill in the form below telling us about the type of content that you’d like to create in two sentences and you’ll have lead-converting content ready to go before you know it.