You’ve finished a draft of your white paper and are ready to move it into production. But before you email the file to your designer and head out for a celebratory beer, review this checklist to confirm that your white paper contains all of the pieces that you need to engage readers and increase your conversions.
1. Does your white paper have a compelling title and subtitle?
Your title is often what motivates readers to download your white paper, so make sure that it contains the most important benefit that readers will gain when they opt in for your white paper.
For example, “ABC Company’s Landing Page Optimization Software” sounds like a product brochure – not an educational white paper. This is a really bad example, but it’s amazing how many companies use this format for their white papers’ titles. Meanwhile, “How to Optimize Your Landing Pages: 10 Easy Changes for Greater Conversions” clearly states the benefit of reading the white paper.
2. Does your introduction entice your audience to read more?
Your first few paragraphs should provide an overview of what follows in the rest of the white paper. You should quickly highlight your audience’s key challenge and explain the benefits that they will gain if they continue to read the white paper. One way to grab your readers’ attention is to open with a shocking statistic.
3. Did you provide enough context?
Statistics, charts, market drivers and quotes from industry experts lend credibility to your white paper. Including these early in your white paper also sets the stage for the discussion of your product or service that comes later. Without knowing the context, your readers might not understand why your product or service is valuable.
4. Did you push the pain button?
Before jumping into a discussion of the solution, you must first show readers that you understand their pains. Be sure to discuss their key challenges, along with the risks of not addressing these challenges or taking the wrong steps.
5. Did you discuss the solution … without discussing your solution?
While it’s essential to discuss your product or service, you shouldn’t do this until the end of the white paper. When you first introduce the solution, you should do so in general terms. For example, if your white paper is on increasing online conversions, you can discuss the benefits of using landing page optimization software (without mentioning your software by name).
6. Does your white paper contain a list of helpful tips?
Readers often opt in for white papers because they are looking for “how-to” tips. Make sure that your “top 10” tips or best practices section covers a large portion of your white paper. The better your tips, the more value readers will find in your white paper.
7. Is your pitch compelling?
Finally … it’s the end of the white paper. You’ve provided context, discussed the problem, presented a solution and offered helpful tips. Now, you can discuss how your product or service can help. At this point, it’s wise to include a short customer success story or testimonial, as studies have shown that buyers want to see more case studies in white papers.
8. Did you ask readers to take the next step?
Lots of marketers include a generic “contact a sales representative” line at the end of their white papers. While this is acceptable, you can do better. Offer readers an incentive for taking the next step, such as a free trial or assessment. Also provide a benefit that they will achieve by contacting you, such as “Discover exactly how many more leads you can attract each month. Contact us at …”.
9. Is your white paper formatted for easy reading?
You can have the most amazing copy in your white paper, but poor formatting can ruin your efforts. Be sure to include lots of sub-headers, bullets, and white space. Also try to keep your paragraphs short, as readers will often skip over large blocks of text.
10. Is your white paper too long?
According to an IDC Connect survey of B2B buyers, white papers should be seven pages in length. How long is yours?
How is your white paper looking? Are you ready to head out for that celebratory beer or back to the drawing board? Feel free to share your comments or questions below.
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This post is part of a series that outlines how to write white papers, as well as how to promote them to reach the widest possible audience. If you would like this series emailed to you for easy reference, please sign up for the No More Boring White Papers! e-course.