Whitepaper lead generation is a key part of every successful demand generation strategy, and while it’s been well-documented that engaging content plays a key role in lead generation, there are so many different options available, it can be hard for marketers to know where to start.
Whitepapers are just one example of long-form content you may well have seen or heard about in your research and, depending on the industry, it can have different meanings.
But what exactly is a whitepaper? How is it different from other examples of long-form content like guides, ebooks, or even blog posts? And how can they be used for lead generation?
Reading time: 5 minutes
What is a whitepaper?
A whitepaper is a piece of content that provides a deep dive into a specific topic or issue. As an in-depth report, it’s usually more detailed and comprehensive than an ebook, guide or blog content, and is typically longer than other types of content – at least 2,500 words.
Whitepapers are seen as more authoritative and valuable documents than other types of long-form content, as they provide a comprehensive look at a topic and provide an in-depth explanation of the issue or topic.
Why should you be creating whitepapers?
Whitepapers are an essential part of your content marketing strategy and an effective method of reaching your target audience and offering valuable insights to potential customers. Whitepapers will help establish your brand’s authority and credibility within your target market, while also providing valuable information that can help sales team close more deals.
They’re also great for content syndication. Whitepapers can be shared in a variety of ways, including through email marketing, social media channels and on websites, making them one of the most cost-effective forms of content marketing. They can also be shared by other websites and publications, which can further increase their reach and impact.
Another great benefit of using whitepapers for B2B businesses and marketing teams is that they can be used to segment and target specific audiences. Whitepapers can be tailored to different customer segments, providing valuable information that is tailored to their needs. This can help marketers reach their target customers more effectively and efficiently, leading to higher conversion rates.
Finally, whitepapers can help establish relationships with customers and build trust. They demonstrate to customers that the brand’s content is of the highest quality, which can help to build relationships and trust over time. This can lead to more sales and a stronger customer base.
How can whitepapers be used for lead generation?
A whitepaper is a valuable asset for B2B businesses to generate qualified leads.
While they’re generally free, whitepapers can be promoted as gated content, meaning anyone needing to read it must fill out a form and provide their details and contact information.
If you want your whitepaper to be effective in generating leads, it needs to be designed in such a way that it contain insights and solutions to the problems faced by your target audience. It should also include case studies and success stories, which will help to engage the audience and convert them into qualified leads.
Choosing the right topic for your whitepaper
When it comes to creating a whitepaper for a B2B business, choosing the right topic is key as it can determine the success of lead generation efforts. To choose a relevant and resonant topic, businesses should consider their target audience and the key pain points they experience. It’s important to create content that’s informative, practical and addresses the needs of the readers. Consider covering a topic that’s related to the product or service your business provides, while also focusing on the readers’ interests and needs.
Additionally, you should ensure that the content is well-crafted and engaging to capture the readers’ attention and draw them into the sales funnel. By understanding the target audience and creating relevant content, you can turn readers into leads.
Following up your whitepaper leads
You’ve identified the audience, created the whitepaper around their needs and delivered a campaign to generate lots of fresh leads… so now what?
When it comes to following up with new prospects from a lead generation campaign, one of the most common questions we’re asked is: “What is best practice?”
The truth is it depends on your unique circumstances as a business and the context of which industry you are operating within. Some of the factors include:
- The length of your sales cycle
- The complexity of your solution
- The number of stakeholders that are involved in purchasing
However, there are a few key principles to remember when it comes to demand generation using whitepapers, and then converting leads into customers.
1. Nurture your leads before calling them
When running a whitepaper or ebook campaign, you will likely be generating a large volume of responses with an initial engagement, and capturing an email address. This is the perfect setup to use for a lead nurturing campaign.
This involves drip-feeding the prospect more content over a number of weeks to generate further awareness and ‘warm up’ the lead before you pass it to sales. If you have the marketing automation technology in place you can track multiple clicks and content downloads and attach a ‘lead score’ based on the activity of that prospect. Setting a benchmark and only passing across leads that have a high enough score ensures that sales only approach prospects that are more engaged with your messaging.
2. Decide when the lead moves from Marketing to Sales
The fundamental aim of both of these functions is the same – generate revenue – however, they’re best suited to engaging customers at different parts of the buyer’s journey.
Even if you haven’t invested in complex marketing technology, there are some ways you can improve results by agreeing when custody of the lead passes from Marketing to Sales.
Hubspot recommends agreeing a service level agreement between departments. This outlines each department’s responsibilities and when custody of the lead changes hands, and can go a long way to sorting out internal process issues.
3. Offer consultation and advice before trying to close them
When you do come to pick up the phone it’s worth having an objective in mind for the next action you want the prospect to take. This is not necessarily to buy from you…yet!
Obviously that is the ultimate goal, however, with a whitepaper lead generation campaign, you’re engaging prospects that are in the research phase of the buyer’s journey. One way to offer value on your follow-up call is to offer more information or marketing collateral around that particular area.
If they have engaged with a whitepaper about a specific pain point they will be indicating an interest in what you have to say around a certain challenge that they face, and will likely want to learn more about that particular subject. You have the opportunity to ask more about what they are struggling with and offer guidance, increasing their trust in your brand and proving that you are selling to them in a consultative way.
4. Qualify the lead further for an accurate pipeline
After building this goodwill the next step is to attempt to engage them with evidence that proves your solution is the one they need to fix their problems. This works well in the form of case studies and one-to-one demos that will show them results.
In an ideal world, your prospect will have been made aware of the problem by the content and you will have proven that your solution holds the key to fixing their issues.
Now you can pipeline the lead and sales can work it to the opportunity stage.
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