Believe it or not, the right white paper format can influence your business’s bottom line. You might have an established client base, but it’s important to keep growing. The secret to growth? Valuable, high-quality content.
You can’t push out just any content. You need content that gives value to prospects while boosting your authority. While blogs and videos are great for the top of the funnel, when it comes to nurturing serious leads, the best method is a white paper.
The phrase “white paper” has a different meaning across industries. Generally speaking, a white paper is an authoritative, long form, data-centric piece of content. White papers let you showcase your knowledge by pulling data from your industry, identifying a problem, and helping inform the reader to influence their decision.
White papers for lead nurturing
Not every business writes white papers, but they should. White papers should form an essential part of your content strategy. Why?
1. They bring in new leads
It’s very rare for a prospect to buy the first time they visit your website. In fact, it takes an average of six to eight touches before a customer will buy. They want to gather information and compare their options before pulling the trigger.
A blog post alone won’t convince your prospects that you’re the best choice. A white paper, on the other hand, builds your brand authority and sets you apart as a thought leader. Because prospects see that you’re knowledgeable in your field, they’re more likely to give you their business.
2. They close deals
Have you ever been this close to sealing a deal, only to have it slip through your fingers? Avoid prospects with cold feet with a white paper. Research shows leads nurtured with a white paper lead to 20% more sales opportunities. Encourage more sales with a white paper that demonstrates your expertise.
White papers matter for your business. If you want more leads, to build buzz, and competition-proof your business, this is content you can’t afford to ignore. Writing a white paper doesn’t have to be a huge hassle, either. Follow these tips for the best white paper format tricks in the biz.
The best white paper format for your business
A white paper is what you make it. The format depends on your audience, industry, and business preferences. But even then, there are a few white paper format best practices that you can follow to create the best white paper possible.
1. Content comes first
The first key to formatting your white paper has nothing to do with the format. You’ve heard the phrase “Content is king,” and that’s a rule that very much applies for white papers.
Unfortunately, many people still believe that white papers are stuffy and boring. Yours doesn’t have to be either of these things. You’ll want your white paper to fall in the 8-10 page range (typically), but that doesn’t mean the content has to be boring or stuffed with jargon.
If you want to make a real impression, write your white paper in a professional yet straightforward tone that everyone can understand. As Albert Einstein said: “Any fool can complicate things; it takes a genius to simplify them.
Keep it simple.
White papers are about taking your reader on a journey. That means you can’t give them the answer or solution upfront. In a white paper, your solution should always come towards the end. The reader needs to understand your argument and the background information before being able to grasp the solution.
Nobody wants to read a white paper called, “Technology Solutions White Paper.” To write a title that titillates, use eye-catching language and imagery. Address the customer’s pain point and indicate how the white paper can help them. “How AI Is Bulldozing Traditional Business Barriers” is much more exciting.
2. Include the proper sections
We encourage you to get creative with the design and content of your white paper. However, there are a few sections you must include. Follow this white paper format to guide your reader.
Abstract (or Executive Summary)
The abstract, or Executive Summary – depending on your industry, briefly covers your white paper’s main points. It shouldn’t give too much away. It should say just enough to help your reader know whether the paper is relevant to them.
Every white paper should solve a problem. Use this section to detail the problem and how it affects your reader.
It’s not enough to say that there’s a problem. You need to tell the story of how the problem came to be, as well as current efforts to fix this problem. This is where you’ll really get into the meat and bones of your data and research.
Now that the reader knows the problem and background, you can offer your solution. The solution will need to be tied to data from the Background section to help readers agree that your solution is logical and effective.
The conclusion ties everything together while offering suggestions for the reader. Summarize the white paper in this section, but also offer actionable next steps for the reader.
Don’t forget to cite your sources! Always include how you found your data. Alternatively, you could use footnotes instead of a list of works cited. Including credible sources gives your white paper more credibility.
Of course, there’s a wide range of approaches you can take for a white paper, but if yours is specifically focused on a solution, then including the above components will help drive your point home effectively.
3. It’s not the time to be cheap
Remember, the goal of a white paper is to establish authority and trust. If your white paper looks like it was designed by an intern, you aren’t going to get results, no matter how impressive the content. For the best outcome, your white paper format should be finished using professional software like Adobe InDesign.
The bottom line
Don’t settle for lackluster results. Get the most value from your content with a white paper. An effective white paper format gives your audience value while growing your authority. You never know where the right content will take you!
Content not your forte? No problem. Give ContentWorm a ring to see how we can expand your content efforts.