Ebooks and whitepapers are the best way to generate a large number of interested prospects quickly and at a rather low cost. Here is how it works.
The B2B buyer of today is quite different from what you would see some years back. Today’s consumers carry out independent product research and value the different offerings based on the content they interact with.
In fact, Gartner has found that B2B buyers spend 45% of the time on independent research, while only 17% in meeting with potential suppliers. Under these conditions, marketing content, such as whitepapers play a critical role in helping buyers make a decision.
Content builds credibility in the eyes of your audience and increases trust in the company’s offerings. As such, it’s an integral part of your marketing and lead generation efforts.
Savvy content marketers leverage high quality, optimized content to generate leads. According to recent studies by the Content Marketing Institute, up to 85% of B2B marketers acknowledge that the most critical objective of content marketing is lead generation.
You need content with high potential of hitting your lead generation goals. Those that encourage your audience to volunteer providing crucial details like their names, email address, and other information on the registration forms. It also has to be substantial, providing information that can’t be easily found anywhere else.
Whitepapers and ebooks hit the sweet spot between the cost of production, lead willingness to register for access to these materials and trust-building qualities of this content. Moreover – in contrast to webinar, production works can be done by third party specialists.
While cost can vary dramatically between industries and markets, we have seen that in Europe advertising cost per download of whitepaper or eBook ranges from 6 – 18 Euros. That is a very low cost to get contact details of audience interested in your topic!
In essence, a whitepaper is an authoritative, well-researched, properly structured and referenced document that communicates a fair level of details about its subject. It’s usually targeted for prospects that expect a deeper understanding of a particular matter.
The form of marketing content is appropriate when justifying product claims, especially if your audience requires technical argumentation and specialist knowledge to understand them.
Besides explaining complex subjects, you can also use the approach to introduce not-so-obvious ideas. The volume is usually between 2000 to 5000 words, and it’s prepared for prospects who want to spend their time and efforts reading.
Generally, marketers have three crucial reasons why they publish whitepapers: to nurture prospects, generate leads, or help close sales. Other companies use whitepapers to attract their audience and prospects attention, redefine their space in the market, or for staking out their position as a reliable industry leader.
It is very important to make sure your whitepapers are well research and contains a sufficient amount of supporting data to back up your claims. I strongly advise against labelling anything that is not well researched and structured document of over 2000 words a whitepaper. (I have seen companies call their datasheet a whitepaper. You don’t want to do that!)
Strategically, whitepapers fit into the continuously growing trend of content marketing. The model acknowledges that sceptical consumers are craving for a service provider that doesn’t just peddle their products, but one that can also be their trusted advisor. Well written whitepapers can do a remarkable job.
Whitepapers can serve different purposes, therefore their structure can vary. I recommend making sure you have a proper Go-To-Market strategy in place before producing marketing content.
A very simple approach to whitepaper is to cover at least the following:
Most companies face hardships generating leads, hence have a more challenging time filling sales funnels, and this is where the eBook comes in.
This marketing approach uses shorter and lighter content that’s created in a much simpler language and takes less effort to read. The content also includes more illustrations, and the target audience is those looking for a general understanding of a particular idea or subject. A typical length of eBook is around 750 – 1500 words, however, we recommend to aim to around 1500 words or more demanding readers might feel cheated.
EBooks serve as a great lead magnet and are less expensive to produce than whitepapers, which typically required significant research.
B2B companies that are out to reach larger audiences and grow the number of prospective leads often need to provide content, that makes it easy to understand a few not too complex ideas.
EBooks work well to create awareness in earlier stages of the customer journey by supplying them with easily consumed useful information that showcases your brand’s credibility.
EBooks can impact your company in many ways. Here are the primary benefits enjoyed by your business if you create this content:
There are two content marketing approaches that you can use in your whitepaper and eBook content.
The first one is to offer quality content while maintaining a low sales push. The information usually respects the buyer and offers valuable insights to help. Whitepapers and eBooks also provide whatever was promised, and there’s no aggressive follow-up. Instead, a thoughtful automated nurturing campaign is used.
This approach helps build the trust and respects the buyers. Moreover, it maximizes marketing efficiency, because prospects that are not ready to buy right now are continuously educated until they are ready to buy.
Another approach is to use content purely as the lead magnet. Here, you’ll offer big promises and use punchy headlines, a lower word count and lower value for information. This is followed-up by a very active sales follow-up.
Both approaches are practical. The first strategy works best if you want to build trust and generate leads for complex and expensive products, such as innovative technologies for B2B. The second approach, on the other hand, can help quickly fill in the sales pipeline, thus helping to close first deals faster.
Content is a crucial part of your company’s marketing and has a significant role to play in your lead generation. Brands are judged by the content they provide to their audiences. From the customer’s perspective, you are the content you offer.
Your content choices, key messages and arguments should be based on your GTM strategy. Therefor it is highly recommended to make sure you have a sound strategy before starting to produce marketing content.
Below are some recommendations when to use ebooks and when whitepapers.
|Complicated innovative product||X|
|Known product or upgrade to known product||X|
|Selling well known third party’s product||X|
|Selling to a technical audience||X|
|Complex buying project involving multiple people on buying team||X||X|
|An innovative product that attracts lots of buyer scrutiny (e.g. safety or compliance concerns)||X|
EBooks and whitepapers are among the content types with the most lead generation potential. Compared to blog posts, these are more expensive and would take up more time and expense to create. But whether your focus is to generate leads, educate your audience, or increase your brand awareness, valuable content will help you collect more client information. I certainly recommend using these types of content.
We at IBD Consulting have a robust process of marketing content creation which involves technical experts. Because of our focus on technology marketing, we are very experienced of explaining complex technical subjects to business or technical audience.
Rolands is a technology marketing strategist and co-founder of IBD Consulting.
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