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13 Powerful Tips for Promoting a White Paper – Part 1

by | May 17, 2016 | Collateral, White Papers, Content Marketing | 2 comments

13 Powerful Tips for Promoting a White Paper – Part 1

Technology buyers consistently rank white papers as the most influential type of marketing content when it comes to making purchasing decisions. Yet B2B marketers often fail to realize the returns they’d hoped to achieve from white paper campaigns. In one survey, for example, only 30% of IT marketers rated white papers as “very effective” marketing tools.[i]

Often, a lack of success in a white paper campaign is the result of insufficient promotion. For white papers to be effective marketing tools, they must be marketed effectively.

In this three-part series, we’ll look at thirteen tips for promoting your next white paper and generating better ROI from your campaign. This is Part 1 of the series, with the first five tips.

Tip #1: Treat Your White Paper Campaign Like a Product Launch

When they publish a new white paper, many technology companies simply post it to their website’s resources page. They think they’re done. Their motto: “If we post it, they will download.” Good luck with that.

The truth is, a white paper has to be promoted if you want to get it in the hands of customers. Even if you’re giving it away for free.

So treat your white paper as a product. Treat its publication like a product launch.

If you have a list of promotional tactics you choose from when setting up a product launch, start with that list. Naturally, you’ll eliminate tactics that are too expensive, too time-consuming, or otherwise don’t make sense for a white paper. I’ll give you suggestions on tactics you’ll likely want to consider, as we proceed through the remaining tips in this series.

Do try a variety of tactics, however. Don’t eliminate any just because you think they won’t work. You really won’t know what works until you try. Come up with a plan, and stick with it.

Tip #2: Measure Your Results

Measure the results of each tactic you try. Only by measuring can you determine which tactics work best for your target market. Only by measuring can you determine the overall ROI of your white paper.

Your first step is to identify how you’re going to track requestors. If you have a company CRM system, ask whoever manages it to set up unique identifiers for your white paper and for each campaign you use to promote it. By tracking requestors and how they requested your white paper, you’ll eventually be able to cross-reference these events in your CRM and see which requestors turned into sales.

You’ll also want to track a variety of metrics related to your campaigns. I like to divide these metrics into two groups: early returns and late returns.

Early returns – things like email open rate, click-through rate, landing page bounce rate and download volume – are numbers that begin to accumulate as soon as a new campaign is launched. You’ll want to monitor these early returns closely, so you can determine which tactics are working well for you, which need to be adjusted, and which you should abandon.

Late returns – results like leads, sales and revenues – won’t be immediately available. Some will take months and even years to accumulate, depending on the length of your particular sales cycle. But eventually, you’re going to want to go back and review these results to determine your overall campaign ROI and which tactics worked the best for you. These numbers will help you justify future white paper expenditure and plan more effective campaigns.

Tip #3: Promote Your White Paper on Your Company Website

Promoting a white paper begins at home – on your company website. And that doesn’t mean just posting it to your resources page.

Start by creating a landing page – a page where visitors can learn about and request your white paper. Your white paper landing page should include:

  • A short, fixed URL
  • A picture of the cover of the white paper
  • An abstract or executive summary of the white paper
  • A brief request form (registration form)

The URL of your landing page should be short and fixed, so that (1) it can be easily typed into a browser if found offline and (2) it won’t change. You’ll include this URL in the call to action of most of your promotions, so it’s important that it not change.

In your abstract, describe the benefits the ideal reader will gain from reading the white paper. You might include or draw upon the executive summary from the white paper itself.

Keep your request form as brief as possible. Studies have shown that the more fields you ask visitors to fill out, the fewer registrations you’ll get. Your objective is to identify prospects and get email addresses for further communication. You really don’t need to fill out complete CRM records on them.

Once you have your landing page in place, drive website visitors to it. Feature your white paper prominently on your homepage, on relevant product or solution pages, and in sidebars on pages throughout your website. Provide one-click access to your landing page via both the thumbnail and a call-to-action (“click here”) link.

Tip #4: Promote Your White Paper in Your Company Periodicals

As soon as you have your new white paper published, start promoting it in your company newsletter and blogs.

If you have a newsletter, feature your new white paper prominently for a couple of issues. Draw on its interesting facts to craft compelling headlines and brief articles that will capture your ideal readers’ attention. Be sure to conclude with a strong call to action and a link to your landing page for those who want to learn more.

After two issues, and depending on the format of your newsletter, you can switch to a simple advertisement featuring a thumbnail of the cover and a link to the landing page.

In your blog (or blogs) you can be more aggressive. White paper specialist Gordon Graham, author of White Papers for Dummies, advocates turning your white paper into a series of posts.[ii] For a product backgrounder, for example, each key feature and benefit can be the subject of a separate post. Similarly, a product/solution white paper can be broken into four posts, one for each of its major sections: (1) the nagging industry problem, (2) the drawbacks of current solutions, (3) the new and better solution class, (4) what to look for in choosing a specific solution. Naturally, you’ll put a link to your landing page at the end of the post, but you can also add additional links when you reply to readers’ comments.

Tip #5: Leverage the Low Cost of Email

Email is one of the most cost-effective channels for getting the word out. You’ll want to use it to promote your white paper to your sales force, channel partners, your opt-in list and any other prospects and allies you normally communicate with via email.

Don’t rely solely on your e-newsletter to promote your white paper to your opt-in list. Create one or more promotional emails (preferably a series) describing and offering your new white paper.  And don’t send just once. Your prospect may be in a meeting, out of the office, or simply too busy or distracted to notice your email the day it hits his or her inbox. Send each email promotion a number of times.

Also, consider creating a new landing page for each email promotion you send out. There are two reasons for this. First, having a specific landing page for each email promotion makes it easier to track the results you get from each email campaign. Second, continuity between traffic source and landing page is the single most important factor in landing page conversion rates. A specific landing page tailored to each email promotion will both improve your results, and allow you to track them.

You’ll also want to use email to drum up support for your white paper among your sales reps and channel partners. Let them know how their prospects will benefit from reading the white paper and how that, in turn, will shed favorable light on the product they’re trying to sell. Then encourage them to spread the word.

Finally, consider adding a few words about your white paper in your email signature for a few months. Encourage your entire sales and marketing team to do this, provided the space is available and company policy allows. As always, include a link to your white paper’s main landing page. This is an easy way to reach hot prospects and long-term leads repeatedly, with very little effort.

Take-Away Points

Like any other product, a white paper has to be promoted if you want to get it into the hands of your prospects. Use these five tips in promoting your white papers:

  1. Treat your white paper launch like a product launch.
  2. Measure the results of each tactic and campaign.
  3. Promote your white paper heavily on your website.
  4. Promote your white paper in your company periodicals.
  5. Make strong use of email to boost white paper ROI.

Next Steps

Discover tips 6 through 13 in this series by clicking on the following links:

And if you need some help planning or writing that next white paper, call CopyEngineer at (+39) 011 569 4951. Or email me at


[i] TechTarget 2008 Media Consumption Report: Perception Vs. Reality of the IT Pro and the IT Marketer.

[ii] Graham, Gordon, White Papers for Dummies, John Wiley and Sons, 2013.

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