Major Study Shows White Paper Power Increasing!

By Michael Stelzner

Listen up businesses!  The white paper is here to stay and it’s only getting more important.  Or so says a brand new study by Eccolo Media.

I covered the main take-home message of their last report earlier this year.  But this new study has some amazing findings covering everything from the influence of white papers compared to other marketing tools, how they are shared, their ideal length and when they are used in the purchase cycle.

I outline the key findings below.

Major findings:

  • White papers yield powerful influence: 84% of businesses find white papers either moderately or extremely influential in their purchasing decisions. Only 1% of respondents thought white papers were not influential.
  • White papers are the most viral form of marketing collateral: White papers are the most commonly shared form of marketing collateral, with 89% of respondents passing them along to others.  In addition, white papers were the most viral marketing collateral with nearly one in three respondents sharing them with three or more people.
  • Decision-makers are consuming more white papers: According to survey respondents, 77% of business decision makers are reading white papers and 2009, up from 68% 2008.
  • Larger businesses rely on white papers more than others: Decision-makers at larger companies (85%) are much more likely to read a white paper than those working in smaller companies (64%).
  • Delivering white papers in audio or visual formats may be worth pursuit: Regarding the format of a white paper, the study examined whether audio or webinar formats of what paper presentations are preferable. 29% said that they prefer to have a white paper consumed in a webinar and 24% said they’d be interested in listening to a white paper podcast.
  • The preferred length of a white paper is 6 to 10 pages: According to the study, readers prefer white papers with an average length of 6 to 10 pages.
  • White papers yield the most strength early in the sales cycle: Regarding the sales cycle, white papers were most effective in the presales process, with 80% reporting. However, white papers also were the leading form of collateral at all other stages of the sales process.
  • Quality writing influences the perceived value of white papers: 51% of respondents felt that high-quality writing is either very important or extremely influential.

What are your thoughts about white papers and this report?  Clearly this study shows white papers are here to stay.

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  • RiverwoodWriter

    This confirms what I have sensed in my interaction with other small business owners as well as in banking circles. As I've said before, no matter what line of business we're in, the skills that good whitepaper writers have are skills that we all need as entrepreneurs: the ability to articulate, to educate, and to persuade. Even the thought process that you use to develop a good whitepaper is helpful in approaching other issues and challenges in business and in life. It emphasizes information gathering, issue identification, and well-articulated analysis and conclusions.

  • Rubywow

    I think quality is the primary element when it occurs to writing white papers. Good quality means the balancing of details. A white paper that glosses over the details of how an offering helps solve a business problem is little more than a lengthy brochure. By contrast, a document that focuses solely on technical detail without placing the offering in a larger business context fails to make a persuasive case.

  • http://www.marketbright.com Jimmy

    I agree with this as often times when I'm outreaching, one of the first things clients ask for are white papers.

  • http://energypriorities.com dubois

    Another powerful tool is research studies. Commission a study in your company's line of business. Make sure your company is the one to interpret the data and write the report. Better yet, use a survey tool (like GMI or Survey Monkey) so you can control the questions and answers. Then offer the results as premium content for lead generation. It's tried and true!

  • samuraiwriter

    Interesting to read of how many folks are reading material online rather than printing. That means white papers need to be even more succinct and eye catching to get a 'look in'!

    Some large corporations also routinely use RFIs (Request For Information) to eliminate the bottom tier providers before going out to tender with an RFP.

    You can bet that white papers are on the scoring grid (which is often intranet-automated and allows staff to securely comment on and grade the presentations and marketing collateral of each participant).

    The 'players' who've done their homework and want to be in the final stage where additional high level presentations are required, will know all about providing top quality digital and print presentations. I know, because I've been an internal reviewer, and dross gets politely rejected…

    Long live white papers!

  • http://samuraiwriter.com/blog samuraiwriter

    Interesting to read of how many folks are reading material online rather than printing. That means white papers need to be even more succinct and eye catching to get a 'look in'!

    Some large corporations also routinely use RFIs (Request For Information) to eliminate the bottom tier providers before going out to tender with an RFP.

    You can bet that white papers are on the scoring grid (which is often intranet-automated and allows staff to securely comment on and grade the presentations and marketing collateral of each participant).

    The 'players' who've done their homework and want to be in the final stage where additional high level presentations are required, will know all about providing top quality digital and print presentations. I know, because I've been an internal reviewer, and dross gets politely rejected…

    Long live white papers!