White papers and eBooks are frequently offered by companies in a gated format: A specialist publication in return for some basic personal data. Positioned as leading, informative and uniquely valuable to the target industry, your white papers and eBooks are a core resource in your B2B marketing campaigns.
1. What are eBooks and white papers?
eBooks and white papers are authoritative and detailed pieces of content typically produced as a PDF. They are comprehensive guides to tackling relevant issues. They help readers to understand complex issues, solve problems or make decisions.
eBooks are typically less formal than white papers and come with more graphics and visuals. They are the ‘fun’ form of in-depth content. By comparison, whitepapers are much more academic in character. The distinction may be mostly about presentation, both formats are conduits for long, detailed and persuasive pieces of content.
2. Why eBooks and white papers are great for B2B gated marketing campaigns
White papers and eBooks are significant pieces of work that will take time and resources to create. But once created they become a valuable and lasting basis for successful B2B marketing campaigns.
Much more than just bait for your gated marketing, white papers and eBooks can be sources of information and content that create a lasting impact on many different aspects of your B2B activities. The content should contribute to positioning the brand as an authority in the industry. It can educate customers, prospects and staff and can shape the direction of further marketing activities. As you reuse and repurpose the content from this core piece of research it will shape your message and enrich your communication across all your B2B marketing channels.
3. What makes for great B2B targeted white papers and eBooks?
To really influence and persuade, your white papers and eBooks need to be well-researched, thoroughly referenced and evidenced-based, citing newly conducted surveys or experiments and containing opinions from industry experts. This is a flagship piece of content for your brand.
A thoroughly researched piece of writing, but not just a piece of academia; to drive successful B2B marketing your publication must be fun to read and goal orientated as well. So, while your white paper or eBook should sound authoritative and not just be a sales pitch, you should always keep the end goal and usage in mind. Right from the start, multiple teams within your organisation should be stakeholders, inputting how the content is developed for maximum impact and how it will be used and promoted to persuade prospects and customers at different stages in the sale funnel.
For top-of-funnel unaware prospects, the publication needs to be thoughtful and insightful, packed full of impartial, expert advice. For those that are further down the sales funnel some sprinkling of customer reviews or information about the product is appropriate and most publications will end with a call to action. If the reader has read right to the end then it is entirely appropriate to explain how your product can take them further and to send them to a relevant landing page offering them the solution you have described or further solutions to related issues.
4. Choosing the right topic for your white papers and eBooks
Of course, one of the most important decisions you will have to make is which topic to write about. When the resources required are so substantial this is an especially important decision.
Not only does your publication need to deliver valuable and fresh information, ideally it should also act as a filter – only interesting for those who are looking to address the problem your product solves. A successful piece of gated content works to ‘deanonymise relevant interest’, supplying your sales team with leads that are actively seeking for the answers they can give.
5. Some examples of B2B gated content and how they are used
Of course, the best way to get ideas for how to plan, write and style your long-form content, is to download some good examples from your peers and get a feel for what a winning piece of B2B research can look like.
You will need to find your own exemplars in your own industry, but here are a couple we especially liked:
This piece of market research from trekksoft about online travel agents is a nice example. Offering clear value to the desired audience and giving a taste of the service that trekksoft offers. To get it you will need to not only give your name and email, but provide one more piece of valuable information for trekksoft: are you in their target industry, ie an organiser of tours.
This white paper from usertesting.com is designed to pre-filter leads. It offers little more than a full explanation of the service, but the company is clearly confident enough in the innovativeness and attractiveness of the service offer alone. Company size is important information for the service and number of employees is the ‘extra’ information requested in their form.