White papers are an outstanding way to provide meaningful content to your prospective customers. They establish your authority in your industry and give you a way to describe solutions at length for audiences that need them. Why, then, aren’t more organizations offering white papers as a keystone of their content marketing strategy? Part of it is that they don’t know why they should. They see them as useful for site visitors but aren’t able to measure the return they get on their investment in content.
Here’s why white papers are a top marketing tool and how to quantify the direct impact they have on bringing leads to sales readiness.
Building Empathy and Trust
A white paper tells your audience you know and understand their problem well enough to offer an in-depth solution. The size and scope of a full-length paper devoted to analyzing and solving your leads’ most pressing concerns tells them you’re equally invested in finding the answers to their questions. Trust springs naturally from giving people the information they most need to know, and white papers are an excellent way of sharing that knowledge. While it isn’t something you can directly measure, trust is closely correlated with engagement – and with a marketing automation system, you get a clear indication of that vital metric.
Expanding on Solutions
In B2C sales, solutions are often simple. For B2B businesses, that’s not always the case. Problems are more complex too and need to move through multiple layers of decision-making. A brief blog post or a few tweets aren’t enough to persuade – not when more is at stake. In long-form content, you’re able to define issues, explore them in depth, and resolve them thoroughly in ways you can’t with shorter channels. Because it offers a more detailed look at resolution of problems, it gives your audience something concrete to take to others involved in decisions when making the case for your product or service. Your marketing automation system can recognize downloads from other personnel within the same firm, giving you an opportunity to watch decision-making unfold as it happens and alert your sales team to a lead who’s reaching sales readiness.
At the top of your sales funnel, you encounter plenty of entry-level leads. They’re ready for general overviews, brief comparisons, and useful blog posts, but every piece of information they amass brings them farther down the funnel. Sales readiness is a progression, not a static state, so how do you help leads make that progress? How do you heighten the interest of people who are closer to making a buying decision? White papers are a wise choice because they reach an audience of potential buyers who are already fairly invested in finding the right solutions and have done much of the preliminary homework to reach that point. As your marketing automation software scores leads and monitors sales readiness, you need to have sufficiently deep, informative content to offer the people at the middle and late phases of sales readiness.
Gathering Data with Gated Content
When you offer something of considerable value to your leads during their decision-making process, you’ve earned the right to ask for some information in return. Placing your white papers behind an information screen that asks your prospects to share some of their data before gaining access to downloads ensures that you have the most up to date, accurate information about them. That’s vital when it comes to data-driven revenue marketing. Automation relies on having clean data, so verifying information via gated content is critical to keeping your marketing list optimized.
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