Are White Papers Still Effective for B2B? Absolutely!
Last week, we invited 35 MarketingSherpa Members to a virtual roundtable discussion to tackle a question we’ve been hearing quite a bit about recently: “Are white papers still effective?”
From our standpoint, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Data show that white papers are still an integral part of the business buying cycle:
- In 2008, 44% of business prospects said they are reading white papers more often than in the past. That’s an increase from the 39% who said in 2007 they were reading white papers more often.
- More than half of business decision-makers and influencers said they read two to five white papers per quarter.
But to judge whether those white papers are effective, marketers need to understand what role they play in the lead generation and lead nurturing cycle. A single white paper download by itself will almost never generate a new customer.
Instead, prospects typically download a white paper in the research phase of a buying decision. They’re looking for content that’s highly relevant to their industry or job description, and that addresses one of their biggest business problems or needs. By downloading your white paper, they’re starting a conversation that should help you gauge over time their product needs, interest level and stage in the buying cycle.
An effective white paper, therefore, can be one that generates names to target for a series of future marketing contacts, such as webinar invitations, telemarketing follow-up calls, and even more white paper downloads. If your benchmark for white paper effectiveness is how many immediate purchase orders you receive, you’re almost certain to be disappointed.