Do's and don'ts of writing white paper titlesA compelling title sells your white paper to prospective readers. That’s why you want to play around with a lot of different options until you find one that’s right.

Here are some dos and don’ts of creating white paper titles:

Don’t Be Generic

Before: Technical White Paper: Cloud Security

This title gives you a general sense of what the white paper is about – cloud security. However, cloud security is a huge topic. When readers look at this title, they don’t know what the white paper is really about or how they will benefit from reading it. Plus, “technical white paper” makes it sound boring. 

Do Focus on Your Audience

After: The IT Manager’s Guide to Enterprise Cloud Security 

Mentioning your target audience in your white paper title is a great way to attract your ideal readers. The “before” title was generic and would appeal to casual readers, as opposed to qualified leads. However, if enterprise IT managers read this title, then they would know that the content is for them. Plus, while “technical white paper” in the “before” title doesn’t promise a lively read, “the IT manager’s guide” sounds more interesting and practical.

Don’t Make It All About You

Before: ABC Company’s Landing Page Optimization Software 

I see a lot of white papers with titles like this. Readers will look at this and think, “Wow! A 10-page sales pitch! Just what I’ve always wanted!”

Do Show the Benefits

After: How to Optimize Your Landing Pages: 10 Easy Changes for Greater Conversions

This title is much better because it explains how the reader will benefit from reading the white paper. If readers doesn’t know what’s in it for them, they won’t opt in.

To further increase your opt-ins, include “how to” in your white paper title. Many of the white papers, e-books and blog posts with the highest readership contain “how to”. This is because when readers see the words “how to”, they know they will get practical advice that they can implement, rather than theory or fluff.

Numerals have also been proven to catch readers’ attention in eye tracking studies. That’s why you should always use the numeral in a title, as opposed to writing out the number. When creating a numbered list, aim for an odd number or 10. Studies have also proven that people are drawn to these numbers.

Don’t Forget a Subtitle

Before: How to Reduce Global Shipping Costs

After: How to Reduce Global Shipping Costs: 7 Ways to Get Lower Rates Without Delaying Deliveries

The first title shows a benefit and is okay.

However, the second title is much better. It shows additional benefits – reducing your costs and delivering goods on time. These benefits also speak to some of the key pains that global shippers experience, which would catch their attention when they read the title. Always use a subtitle to expand on the benefits of the title and give readers more incentive to download your white paper.

And finally, be sure to include your keywords in your title, as this will help with your SEO.

What about you? What are your white paper title do’s and don’ts? Please share your thoughts below. If you have any other comments or questions about this lesson, please post them in the comments section below or message me directly.



One Response

  1. Thanks for this, Rachel. So much of effective writing (starting with headlines and subheads) is based on addressing the question the reader is asking: “What’s in it for me?”