Raise your hand if you’ve asked some version of this question recently:
“Do we really want to invest so many of our marketing resources in white papers? Does anybody read those things anymore?”
In today’s marketing environment, long-form content such as white papers and e-books may seem a little outdated. Quaint, even. With clients and prospects busily digesting tweets, blogs and other “snackable” content, why toil to make a 10-course meal they might not finish?
The reason is strategic. These information-rich, tips-focused pieces can do more to communicate your message, highlight your expertise and capture the attention of potential customers than any other medium. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, more than 70 percent of business-to-business marketers use white papers and e-books as part of their marketing strategy. A majority believe these tools are the most successful at helping organizations achieve their objectives.
So, don’t be afraid to invest in long-form content. Just be sure it occupies the right place in your holistic marketing strategy.
When are long-form pieces beneficial?
White papers and e-books are especially valuable when you want to convey your expertise around a complex topic. They’re a great way to showcase thought leadership.
For example, let’s say you want to communicate that your company is well-versed in how to transition from fee-for-service to value-based healthcare. Long-form content offers plenty of runway to delve into the topic’s many nuances, and to provide practical strategies for moving forward. Not only does this demonstrate your company’s grasp of the information, it underscores your position as an innovator. It allows you to share concrete next steps to help readers realize their own goals.
White papers and e-books can also provide clarity around common misperceptions. For instance, if your potential customers are concerned about the security of cloud-based technology solutions, a long-form piece can fully debunk the myths — while simultaneously reinforcing your software-as-a-service messaging.
More content, more places, more effective
Once a piece is written, it’s critical to create lots of diverse customer access points. Possible distribution venues include linking it to Facebook and Instagram ads, attaching it to Tweets or gating it on your website. By sharing the material in this way, you can track views and monitor interest. In addition, linking a white paper or e-book to a social media ad or post can drive up engagement statistics and improve platform performance.
Not only does all of this get your message into people’s hands, but it can also generate qualified sales leads. That’s because the people downloading the content are interested in the topic and what you have to say about it. As a result, you know that these folks are more likely to be receptive to hearing directly from you.
Plus, long-form collateral is the gift that keeps on giving. Long-form content typically can be parsed into smaller portions and used in articles, blogs, e-blasts and other short-form pieces that link back to the original report. Since a white paper or e-book often has a long shelf life, it can be used and re-used in multiple ways – giving you the most bang for your buck.
Don’t overlook a key opportunity
Even in the era of Twitter and Instagram, well-developed white papers and e-books are a must-have for your marketing toolkit. By fully leveraging this type of strategy-rich offering, you can share critical information with potential and current customers. By all means, continue to offer “snackable” short-form content. But don’t overlook the important benefits of a satisfying long-form entrée.