In How to Produce a Successful White Paper (Part I) you learned about the three types of white papers, how to launch a white paper like a new product launch and how the tone should be educational so as to position your company as a thought leader. In this follow-up blog, you’ll learn the pros and cons of gating your white papers behind a registration form rather than open access, your syndication options and if an ebook is the new white paper.
Pros and Cons of Gating Your Content
According to David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rule of Marketing & PR, there are two marketing camps on the subject of requiring prospects to register before downloading a white paper. The first camp believes a registration form is necessary because it allows your company to capture an email address and convert that person into a sales lead. The downside is your registration/download numbers often suffer because people don’t like to give away their emails, get spammed or lose their autonomy.
The second camp believes it is best to make content such as white papers totally free because it increases the spread of the information and therefore the interest level in their product or service.
Now let’s look at some very interesting math that Scott used when he was arguing his preference for non-gated content with a HubSpot in-bound marketer, who is in the first camp.
As you can see above, the gated content only got downloaded 500 times, whereas the non-gated content received 10,000 downloads, 500 social media shares, and generated 25 backlinks to the company’s site or landing page. Of course you have to factor in that the free downloads may be less valuable than those willing to give their email address, but does the sheer volume and viral effect make up for this difference in your multi-channel marketing?
Perhaps you should test both in your next campaign and determine this for yourself. It’s worth a look because Scott says opening the gates to your content can increase download volume 16x what you were getting when it was gated.
Are You Syndicating Your White Papers?
Okay, so you’ve invested in a research firm, copywriter or journalist to write your library of white papers, which are posted on your site. Now what? According to Ryan Malone, founder of Smart Bug Media, you need to syndicate that white paper. Syndication generates additional leads and you can use both free and pay sites to maximize reach and interest in your product or service.
White paper syndication services exist in just about every niche, including banking, technology, business, and IT. Here is a brief list of syndicators to consider:
http://www.idgconnect.com (IT and tech)
http://www.knowledgestorm.com (business and IT)
White Papers vs. eBooks
No surprise that Scott thinks eBooks will eventually replace white papers. He feels this way because too many companies are churning out poorly written, researched and packaged white papers. He says too many white papers are more like warmed up sales sheets. Readers are becoming fed up with the bait and switch, giving companies their confidence and emails, only to be hammered by a hard sell or flamboyant hyperbole such as flexible, scalable, cutting-edge, mission-critical, world-class, etc.
Scott goes on to say that white papers still have a purpose, but because they can’t go viral because people won’t share them, they weaken your marketing efforts.
Ebooks, on the other hand, appear to be the more vogue and hip medium of business communications. Check out the top 10 ebook downloads on Ebook3000 and answer when the last time one of your white papers got download 22,548, 16, 639, or 13,821 times.
Principles of Corporate Finance (22548)
Guide to Financial Management (11006)
Principles of Macroeconomics (10941)
The One Minute Manager (10507)
Your homework is to go through your existing white papers and tweak headlines, copy, graphs, cover pages and then submit and redistribute them as a press release to a syndication site or directly to a media outlet to ask for an interview slot on an appropriate business channel or radio talk show.