Quick Navigation: 

When consumers want to learn more about a specific subject, they often turn to the internet. Your company can help solve their problems or answer questions by creating an in-depth white paper. It’s easier to create an impressive white paper if you understand the elements your document needs to properly inform and engage your audience.

What Is a White Paper?

A white paper is a document that educates readers on certain subject matters. It can sometimes argue a certain point or solve a problem the audience is facing. White papers are a great way for your organization to establish itself as an industry expert, which causes your clients and prospective customers to build a stronger trust in your brand and its products or services. When consumers trust your brand, they’ll feel more compelled to stay with your company as long-term, loyal customers.

White papers can be anywhere from one to 10 pages. The length you decide to make your white paper typically depends on how long it takes you to introduce your topic, make all your points to help strengthen it, share data and research to support your points, and provide a convincing conclusion. The type of white paper that you should craft depends on your topics, industry, and audience. Common types of white papers include:

  • Backgrounders — Also known as a product briefing, this is an old but good form of white paper that companies use to explain a new or complicated tech product to readers. Use this format if you need to detail key features or functions of a product in a straightforward way.
  • Numbered lists — If you have many points to get across in one document, try the numbered list format. This mirrors the layout of most blogs, which is a readable, numbered list answering common consumer questions. It refrains from any complicated technical speak and instead features engaging language that’s easy for consumers to quickly scan and find their answers.
  • Problem/solutions — When your target audience is facing a complex problem, your white paper can be the helpful guide they turn to with this format. This type of white paper is known to convert more leads to customers because it solves complex industry problems and encourages readers to take actionable steps when they’ve finished reading. It should provide an in-depth solution to consumers’ issues, which causes them to build stronger trust in your company and purchase your product or service.

What Are the Characteristics of a Good White Paper?

When you craft your white paper, try not to let your opinions take control of the points you’re making. It should be factual and add value to your reader. If your white paper is arguing a certain point, have the stats and data to back it up. Your reader should walk away from your white paper having learned a new subject that’s relevant to them. Common characteristics of an impressive white paper include:

  • A clear and concise summary — This is the beginning of your white paper and explains what your readers are about to learn. It should be concise, but clear. This way, your audience knows they’re about to read a document that goes in-depth on a subject they want to learn more about.
  • Strong data and statistics to support your points — When you’re trying to make factual points during discussions with friends, it’s hard to convince people to believe and agree with you without having the data to back it up. The same goes for your white paper. Heavily research your content, use statistics, and regularly link resources to support your statements.
  • Proper formatting and layout  The flow of your white paper must be consistent and logical. If a certain talking point makes the reader ask a question in their head, provide follow-up content that answers it and any of their other potential questions. Make sure everything feels ordered, well-organized and easy for the reader to navigate.
  • Clear explanation of why this information is important — Your conclusion should wrap up your information and explain why it’s important for readers to know it. Explain how this data and information impact either your reader or your industry and what your readers should take away from it.
  • Visually appealing charts and graphs — Give readers a break from large sections of words by providing graphics, images, and charts, or graphs, to support your content. This also makes the white paper more visually appealing and provides additional white space and room for your content to breathe.

Image via Unsplash by Glenn Carstens-Peters

What Are Some White Paper Tips?

When it comes to a great white paper, it’s important to create one that stands out from your competitors, solves a complex industry issue, and provides value to your readers’ lives. Follow these white paper tips:

  • Outline your talking points  Better understand what you’re writing about by conducting extensive research on your content and reading materials with creditable data and statistics. Build an outline that includes a headline, summary, subheadings, and breakout boxes to clarify certain points.
  • Hook your audience with a compelling title — Take your time brainstorming a title that conveys cleverness, grabs your reader’s attention, and represents what your topic is about. This is the first thing your writers will see when they land on your white paper, so it should get them excited to click on it and read the full document.
  • Edit for grammar, clarity, and relevance — Proofread your white paper again and again, not just for grammar, but to make sure it’s relevant to your overall topic and contains quality information that you know your target audience wants to read. Have several team members, friends, or colleagues proofread it and let you know if any points don’t make sense or need additional information or data to support it.   

When you’ve finished writing your white paper, look for sections that can be repurposed into new content pieces, like blog posts. Develop a detailed marketing strategy and launch plan to make sure this informative content reaches a wide set of readers, essentially converting more leads to customers.

Knowledge Base: Content Marketing

You May Also Like