What Is A Whitepaper & How Does It Help Convert Online Leads
One of the things that keep prospective and existing customers coming back to your website and engaging further with your dealership is fresh new content offers. Along with the other types of content you create, an occasional whitepaper helps change things up. And it can help you convert online leads – especially those who are farther into your sales funnel.
What is a whitepaper?
The answer to this question depends on your industry and your goal in producing this content, so the definition can vary. The name initially described a document created to explain and support a political solution. In some industries, a whitepaper is used to explore the science behind a particular technology and/or its impact. A whitepaper may also explore a particular product in depth.
For instance, one of your OEMs might produce a whitepaper discussing in detail recent technology advances and how they are affecting trucking or construction. Or your marketing team might produce a whitepaper unique to your dealership that provides a synopsis of recent innovations in trucking or construction machinery and how those technologies are affecting your industry locally. You can use either of these types of whitepaper as content offers to convert online leads.
Unlike blog articles and eBooks, both of which are usually written in a conversational, person-to-person tone, a whitepaper is more academic. “Just the facts,” if you will. A whitepaper is longer than a blog article because it contains considerably more information, but its length can vary considerably. Whereas a whitepaper is a scholarly presentation on a single subject, an eBook is more of a how-to guide.
You can add a short section following the conclusion that describes your business (similar to the information you would insert at the end of a press release), but the content of the whitepaper itself should never be promotional in any way.
What does a whitepaper look like?
The subject matter is usually complex, requiring considerable research and writing time, and the finished document usually includes illustrative charts and graphs or photos as well as overall “finishing” graphics to give the piece a cohesive look. The result can be a document that is definitely not designed for light reading or skimming but can serve as a valuable background resource.
Often whitepapers are formatted to present a specific problem and then describe how it can be solved. This type of whitepaper is typically at least 6 pages, including graphics and references, although some are much longer. It has a formal structure:
- Title page.
- Table of contents.
- Executive summary.
- A several-page informative section about the problem.
- A several-page section outlining a solution to the problem.
- Several-page case study style example of a company that implemented this solution.
It is presented as a PDF so it is easy to download and use as a stand-alone resource.
But you can also create a shorter whitepaper that has a less-formal structure. Its format may simply be:
- Introductory text describing the scope of the paper.
- Informational sections rather than formal chapters, with illustrative graphics and photos if appropriate.
A shorter whitepaper can be an especially important addition to your dealership’s content offers because it is sized to appeal to your very busy customers and prospects. They can get more information that keeps them up-to-date on the trucking or construction industry or helps them manage their business more effectively, without having to wade through a heavy, sleep-inducing tome.
You’re building credibility as a resource and reinforcing the fact that you understand your customers and are cognizant of their time constraints. And because of the deeper information available in a whitepaper, you can choose to require more than just an email address from your prospect in exchange for the download. That benefits your sales and marketing efforts.