InformationWeek recently released a report titled, “Tech Marketing: Best Practices Research Series: White Papers: How to Maximize the Use of White Papers in Your B2B Marketing and Sales Process.” Yes, that is a mouthful, but so is the report. It full of great facts about the marketing power of white papers.
Here is my summary:
- Viral nature: 93% of buyers pass‐along up to half of the white papers they read/download
- What folks do AFTER reading: The first thing readers do is go to a search engine for more information (75.8%)
- Can you trust them?: Only 40.7% if all white papers are deemed as trustworthy
- How papers impact sales decisions: The role white papers play in the purchasing decision:
- General education (76.3%)
- Investigate technology in more detail (73.8%)
- Learn about a vendor’s solution (68%)
- Best white papers are here: Where do readers find the best white papers:
- Vendor websites (50.8%)
- Professional organization (43.4%)
- Research firms (38%)
- B2B sites and libraries (32.8%)
- Suggested content: The best white papers should have:
- A tight, to-the-point abstract (80%)
- Minimal marketing (78.6%)
- Use/Case studies (75.6%)
- Other stuff: The perception of white paper content improves based on the reputation of the media source, so reported 78.9% AND if the vendor is known, 68% will trust the content, regardless if it is posted on a trusted media source
Summary: Most of these findings are in line with the other research I have covered. Some real interesting new findings were the fact that folks rush off to search engines after reading white papers. This is why I think it is so important to provide a shopping list of recommendations to readers, to bring them back. In addition, the lack of trust related to so many white papers has much to do with the type of content folks are producing—too sales focused and not enough education.
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