How to Write a White Paper That Generates Sales. I’ll walk you through five simple steps to create a white paper that will start generating new leads ASAP. Instead, your big ‘levers’ are those two conversion rate numbers (from visits to leads and leads to sales). White papers and e-books can help both numbers. They give you at least an email address (if not more) with the offer, so you can start personally contact new leads. For example, blog post readers are a perfect audience for your new white paper because you can often link the topics. Now let’s start promoting your white paper off-site (on other websites) to drive attention and interest back to your website. If your white paper topic and the hook are interesting enough, you should also be able to drive tons of traffic back to your site by promoting it on others. You can also often get people to help you promote this new content asset by asking for reviews. Good white papers do that on both sides of the equation (visits to leads and leads to customers).
The vast majority of your website traffic is going to leave and never come back.
That’s harsh, I know.
But unfortunately, it’s also true. Only a tiny percentage of the people who come to your site will ever buy.
Your only solution is to do whatever it takes to get those people to stick around long enough to give you their contact information. That way, you can continue following up with them to encourage future sales.
I’ll walk you through five simple steps to create a white paper that will start generating new leads ASAP.
But first, here’s why white papers can drastically improve your marketing results.
Why should you spend time creating a white paper?
Almost nobody buys a product on the first visit to a website. People spend time researching, comparing, and understanding their options.
In fact, the average conversion rate across industries for first-time website visitors is between 2 and 3 percent.
That number’s even worse for big, expensive products and services.
The average conversion rate in the B2B industry, for example, is 2.23% according to a WordStream analysis.
That means two things:
First, 97.77% of your website traffic is doing everything but buying.
You worked so hard (and spent so much) to generate all of that website traffic in the first place, and then all they’re doing is bouncing.
But second, the 2.23% of the people who did convert only became leads. Let that sink in for a moment.
That means there’s still a ton of work to do before you ever collect a single penny.
Multiply the number of new leads by the average close rate of 27%, and you’ve got a problem.
Do the math and see for yourself.
Here’s a quick and dirty analysis I just threw together as an example. (I rounded some of the numbers to two digits for simplicity, so they might not match exactly.)
It could cost you almost $4,000 to generate one single sale based on a measly $5 cost per customer (CPC) and based on the average conversion rate and close rate from earlier.
The CPC in some industries can go as high as $30-50 per click. Just think about what that would do to these numbers right now.
You can lower that AdWords CPC a little bit but not by much.
Instead, your big ‘levers’ are those two conversion rate numbers (from visits to leads and leads to sales).
And that’s where white papers and e-books come into play.
For example, getting your website conversion rates up to the 10% mark would result in massive cost savings.
You can (and should) also work on your qualifying and closing tactics to hopefully improve those numbers from the low (and expensive) ~27% industry average.
White papers and e-books can help both numbers.
On the front end, they can help you increase the initial conversion rate. Salesforce pegs the number of touchpoints required for conversion at around 6 to 8. Before that, your prospects are still in the decision-making process.
But an analysis of over $3 billion in ad spend showed that your offer (in other words, a white paper versus a “free consultation” page) has the single biggest impact on conversion rates.
And then, on the back end, ‘nurtured’ leads who’ve had a chance to digest your content result in 20% more sales opportunities as well.
So white papers allow you to kill two birds with one stone (and I mean that in the best, least violent way possible).
I’m going to use the terms white paper and e-book interchangeably here because they’ve kind of morphed into one another over the past few years.
The important thing is that both white papers and e-books can help encourage and drive conversions.
Typically, they’re more in-depth on a specific subject than your typical blog post (like “how to use white papers to boost conversions” — sound familiar?).
The topic usually covers the big problem or pain point, allowing you to subtly start introducing how you solve it toward the end (or how you do it better than anyone else).
A white paper can consist of anywhere from a half a dozen pages to one hundred or more pages. It all depends on the topic and its complexity.
And while white papers are mostly text-based, they often include hard stats, graphs, charts, and links to substantiate the claims you’re making.
Sounds easy enough, right?
I’m going to show you how to put them together in a second.
But just realize that good white papers deliver far more than just the hard conversion increases we just analyzed.
- They can help build your personal brand and establish your company as a thought-leader in the space.
- You can use white papers to build your credibility and allow you to reach out to other partners who can help your business scale faster.
- They give you at least an email address (if not more) with the offer, so you can start personally contact new leads.
- They give your website visitors something interesting to share for you on social media.
- And they help your site attract more attention and links, which might generate more organic traffic back to your site.
Not bad for a few hours of work, right?
Now let’s talk about what your white paper should be about before diving into how it should look.
Step #1. Craft the perfect hook to compel people to sign up
Nearly every B2B website has the same exact call to action:
“Get a Free Consultation!”
Let’s be honest with each other for a second.
Have you ever been excited to get a “free consultation” or something of the like? Do you jump at that chance every time you see it?
Or do you do it begrudgingly because it’s the only option made available to you?
Free consultations often miss the mark because they don’t provide value by solving your prospect’s problem. They just give the company’s sales team a chance to flap their gums.
Ideally, you want to “create ideal customers” instead, like in this Oracle example:
The middle of the page starts in with the problem this prospect is facing, while the bottom conveniently segues into what someone’s going to get out of this offer.
Here’s another example in a completely different industry.
Let’s say you’re trying to attract customers to your orthodontic practice. You’re interested in promoting your Invisalign services specifically.
You could invite potential customers to come in for a free consultation. You might even get a few bites.
But there’s a better way.
The topic of your whitepaper might be “Invisalign.” That’s OK, but still not great.
The hook of your white paper, however, is the unique spin or point of view you’re going to give that topic.
Let’s look at a few good examples.
This first one isn’t perfect, but it’s heading in the right direction.
Check out that hook!
“How Invisalign can improve your smile without the hassle of traditional braces.”
Now, if you’re even remotely thinking about either solution, you’re going to download this white paper to contrast and compare your options.
- Addressing your pain point: The only reason people would visit an orthodontist is to correct their smile. But most are often worried about…