SEO Glossary: Whitepaper

 

 

In a nutshell: What is a white paper?

A white paper is an advertising tool in online marketing. It is a short document with a small number of A4 pages that provides readers with knowledge or helpful advice. For example, a company can publish a white paper to help its own target group solve a problem. In this way, the target group develops trust in the company, whereupon some of the interested parties may become paying customers.

White paper: Originated in politics. Now a popular advertising method.

The white paper has its origins in politics. In the document, governments comment on their actions and justify them with arguments. The political transparency that white papers are supposed to bring ideally contributes to greater trust on the part of the population. White papers have been used for over a century for the purpose of political justification, argumentation and self-presentation.

 

White papers have become increasingly popular in online marketing, especially in the last decade. Here, the white paper has a different purpose than in the political sphere: the white paper in online marketing is not used by companies to justify their own actions to the target group, but as a means of generating leads. This is how it works:

 

  1. First, a target group (also known as a buyer persona) is defined. Measures are developed to arouse the interest of the target group. An example of a corresponding measure is advertising.
  2. Not all potential customers from the target group immediately decide to take the action intended by the advertising (e.g. purchase a product; take out a subscription). Some people bounce, others buy directly - and some of the target group initially become interested parties.
  3. There are special methods to turn prospects into paying customers. One fairly popular method is to offer interested parties helpful content. This can be done via the website through good blog posts and specialist articles on the one hand, and via downloadable documents on the other.
  4. One of these documents is the white paper. It contains information on topics that are relevant to interested parties. Typically, the white paper should contain particularly high-quality information and stand out from the content otherwise provided on the website. It can contain interesting case studies or instructions on how to solve a specific problem.

 

Since it has become essential for almost every company to be present on the Internet with its own products and services, various advertising strategies and tools have been developed. The white paper is an essential component in many strategies because it binds interested parties by offering them additional benefits.

 

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Example of the use of a white paper in marketing

Several companies operate according to the principle of the funnel in online marketing. The aim of a sales funnel is to turn people from a broad target group into paying customers. The goal here is the "sale".

 

Once the attention of the target group has been attracted by target group-oriented advertising messages (e.g. Google Ads; advertisements in social media) or good content marketing (e.g. articles on your own website; posts in social media), some people are interested in the respective product.

 

By clicking on the advertisement, interested parties are taken to a landing page, for example. The product is offered for sale on the landing page. A free white paper can be offered to those interested parties who have not yet decided to buy. Some of the prospective customers, however, bounce, narrowing the sales funnel.

 

The whitepaper contains exclusive information that offers significant added value for interested parties compared to the other content available on the Internet. Only a white paper of particularly high quality makes it possible to retain as many interested parties as possible and convince them of the product. Convinced prospects make the purchase. Because there are several interested parties who decide against the purchase despite the convincing white paper, the funnel narrows again.

 

In the end, some of the large number of people - the target group - remained as paying customers thanks to the filtering processes. The whitepaper contributed to the fact that some interested parties who would normally have dropped out were convinced by the product after all and went ahead with the purchase.

 

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Differentiation from lead magnets: White paper with case studies and sophisticated content

Lead magnets have a firmly established place in online marketing. Like the white paper, lead magnets are used to generate leads and contain a wealth of information for the target group. Basically, lead magnets are similar to white papers in many respects. So what is the difference?

 

  • A lead magnet is the term used in sectors with lower demands. If readers are searching the Internet for help with quitting smoking or want tips on furnishing their own home, an informative document or e-book with the "Top 10 tips" can be offered for download. This is a lead magnet.
  • The content requirements for a white paper are extremely high. The term "white paper" is used specifically in the IT industry or in other academic circles as well as in B2B marketing. The readers are highly educated, usually bring a lot of knowledge with them and should be convinced by a high-quality white paper.

 

Due to the particularly high demands of the target groups for white papers, the content must be researched and formulated with the utmost care. In addition, a complex problem or topic must be chosen to be addressed in the white paper. The information presented in the white paper must be of great benefit and demonstrate the company's expertise.

 

 

Conclusion on the topic of white papers

The whitepaper is used to generate leads. People who have not decided to buy a product or another conversion based on the marketing measures are to be subsequently convinced of the company by the white paper. Target groups for white papers are academics and people with expertise; in order to convince them, the content of the white paper must be exclusive and innovative.

 

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