The term “whitepaper” can send the brightest of people into a frenzy of confusion. But what is a whitepaper? Marketing teams use whitepapers—also written as “white papers”—as informational documents to appeal to a target audience. They provide concise information designed to inspire the potential customer to make a decision to buy a product, adopt a new system, or further educate themselves on a topic.


Whitepapers establish a business’s brand by outlining its products or services and the problems they solve for a target audience. In this way, whitepapers are marketing tools to generates leads. A good whitepaper appeals to the eye with graphics, data, and logical arguments.

Why create whitepapers?

Businesses use whitepapers to share long-form content with stockholders, potential customers, and even B2B buyers looking to partner with startups. As thought leaders begin the lead generation process, the marketing team constructs a whitepaper by brainstorming popular content to increase site traffic. Companies can prompt their audience to download their whitepaper through subscribing to a newsletter or voting in a survey.

Whitepapers also play a major role in lead generation. The writer identifies popular content on a company’s social media or blog posts. For example, they might consider which posts are getting the most likes, shares, and comments. After pinning down key takeaways, the writer presents a technical document to the decision maker that will increase site traffic. One way to do this is by including vocabulary pertinent to the company’s original research.

How can whitepapers can help your business?

By harnessing an effective content marketing strategy, whitepapers help businesses spread their message to their target audience. Whitepapers generate leads by acting as a landing page for the business. When a potential customer discovers a business’s social media, the whitepaper acts as an educational resource to teach the customer what the business offers.

Additionally, whitepapers benefit a business’s customer conversion rate. Instead of having to scroll through a business’s social media to find what the business has to offer, customers can read the whitepaper for digestible content designed to intrigue or educate. And this frees up time for the customer to make purchases!

How do you use whitpapers as a markeitng strategy?

Small businesses that are just starting out can use whitepapers to alert their target audience of their services. For instance, health businesses can use them to inform the public of newly found research. Whitepapers also allow B2B buyers to find like-minded companies for potential partnering. As a marketing tool, whitepapers provide an easy way to see what each business is all about.

Furthermore, in the creation process, marketers use both web copy and content to establish topical authority. Web copy sells products, while content educates or entertains. Audiences trust sources with topical authority and are more likely to purchase from businesses they trust.  Therefore, linking other sources to your paper establishes authority along with explaining relevant topics. Ultimately, marketers should aim for topical authority as opposed to opinions in their content.

How to generate leads

The purpose of a whitepaper is to generate leads from a target audience. Thought leaders and marketers organize their content marketing strategy to get data from potential customers. By creating a sign-up sheet for a newsletter or asking for contact information, customers trade their information for the whitepaper. Businesses then use the data collected to engage with the qualified leads.

How can you write a whitepaper that generates leads?

An interactive whitepaper proposes a solution to a problem. In other words, it’s not a sales pitch. Successful whitepapers establish topical authority by linking to sources, incorporating graphs and charts, and including images that speak to the target audience.  Also, it helps to avoid passive voice in the whitepaper!

Brand awareness is another piece of lead generation. Thought leaders thoroughly research their target audience, with “target” being the operative word. Ask yourself, who wants to buy the specific product? What B2B companies should you target for possible partnerships? Be sure to also take into account the whitepaper’s promotion. Think about which customers are already clicking links similar to the whitepaper. This will tell you which customers this paper will be inbound marketing for.

After getting customer data, marketers measure the number of leads generated. You can measure leads by considering the following: How many people downloaded the document? What did the marketers learn from the survey required to access the whitepaper? How many people shared it on social media? What is the SEO rank? And how much revenue did this paper generate? Don’t forget to look into marketing software that might help in calculating this data.

How to determine the subject of your whitepaper

First things first: conduct original research. Start by asking, what problem does your audience need to be resolved? Then present your solution! A successful content marketing strategy identifies who needs to be sold what. Marketing tools such as surveys, questionnaires, or polls on social media can help identity your target audience’s specific needs. After the marketing team completes their research reports, choose the topic!

When choosing a topic, think about what platform your audience is most likely to find your whitepaper on. Is it social media? A blog post? Your official website? Where will your long-form content get the most traffic? How will the whitepaper differ from existing content?

Remember: the goal of the whitepaper is to sell the company’s product or mindset. So you need to decide whether you want the customer to learn more about the company, make a purchase, or subscribe to receiving more content.

How can you tell if your whitepaper is engaging?   

Run consistent analytics on the whitepaper to see how many hits it’s getting. It’s also a good idea to look at what the customer does after being exposed to your content. One must also ensure that the tone of the writing matches the product being sold. For instance, if you’re offering a medical product, keep your writing clinical and clean. But if your product is a new-and-improved dog toy, then have some fun with it!

The structure of a whitepaper

Whitepaper templates are very uniform, but they shouldn’t feel like business propositions. They must grab the readers’ attention with clever use of white space, graphics, and topical authority.

In general, your outline should look like: title, abstract, problem statement, background, proposed solution, conclusion, and finally, references (to help with topical authority!). But, of course, within this structure, there’s room for creativity! Whether it’s in the writing or captivating images, you need to intrigue your audience to optimize success.

How many words should a whitepaper be?

Whitepapers have a bad reputation of being the longest and drollest long form content. However, it’s important for your whitepaper to mirror word counts of similar whitepapers. So with that in mind, expect papers geared toward medical professionals to be longer and include more research than one that’s speaking to an audience with a high school education. The number of words will also inform your tone and content.

Why is it important to structure your whitepaper for best lead generation?    

Whitepapers should be structured so that the audience knows what to do next. This is because the business will lose the lead if the audience is confused. So make sure your whitepaper helps to further develop a relationship between business and consumer and increases that lead generation.


Determine which writing style complements your topic. Whatever authorial voice you choose, it must go hand in hand with how the decision maker designs the whitepaper.

What is the correct format of a whitepaper? 

The format of an effective whitepaper includes interactive content specifically tailored for the target audience. Consider which ideas will be emphasized with bold or italicized fonts, and how white space will direct the reader’s eye to pivotal information.

Why is it important to format your whitepaper for maximum readability?

Whitepapers must be formatted for maximum readability because the reader will not spend all day ingesting the content. Therefore, the reader needs to able to quickly identify the business’s proposed solution to a problem before swiping to more interactive content.

How does the whitepaper format differ from other types of marketing content? 

Today’s audiences are used to content that is short and sweet. Conversely, whitepapers are more technical than an Instagram story and more detailed than a TikTok. So it’s important to format your whitepaper with your audience’s expectations in mind so you don’t bore your audience.

Tips for writing a whitepaper

Whitepapers should be detailed yet engaging, and professional yet approachable. Above all, be clear and concise.

How do you write a good technical whitepaper?  

Outline key points within the template discussed. Remember use a tone that matches your business. Start by writing a draft and analyzing how to make adjustments to further connect with the intended audience. At the end, make sure to proofread!

Visual content is also important to include. It not only engages the audience, but keeps the audience focused on your problem and solution too. Pictures, charts, and graphs all increase the readability of the whitepaper.

Readability also increases when readers of all backgrounds can understand the content. This is why identifying the target audience is key. Think about the sort of vocabulary your audience will understand or appreciate. Keep focusing on the main goal: to create a technical document that holds your audience’s attention.

How many whitepapers should you write?

A business should create as many whitepapers as the number of markets that the business covers. Thought leaders should also consistently update whitepapers after producing new research reports.

Generally, businesses create whitepapers as new problems arise. In this way, thought leaders would be wise to monitor how many whitepapers their competition publishes to ensure that their solution is promoted. Your budget will also determine the amount of whitepapers to make. This will vary for each company. Whitepaper writers can charge anything from $5 to $7,000, depending on the subject.

How long should you wait before updating a whitepaper?  

Don’t overwhelm your customers. The last thing a business wants to be is overbearing. Wait for a reason to update the whitepaper. For example, maybe a new problem will arise, and your business will resolve it. But don’t reinvent the wheel if the whitepaper’s circumstances haven’t changed.

How to publish your whitepapers

How the company publishes a whitepaper depends on the company’s field. Will a blog post suffice? Is a scientific journal more appropriate?

What strategies do you use to promote your whitepapers?   

It’s not enough to simply make the whitepaper; it will need to be promoted! Have a landing page that interests the audience. Create popups to serve as inbound marketing. Use owned and earned content distribution in blog posts, social media pages, or emails. Get creative with your promotion, because whitepapers are useless if they aren’t promoted.

How do you publish a whitepaper?

Make sure a PDF version of the paper is available and add it to the business’s content or a B2B company’s platform. As mentioned, be sure to trade the document for customer data!

Where should you publish your whitepaper?

Where does the business’s target audience frequent for information? Is it Twitter? A B2B company’s blog? Perhaps the product needs to be announced in a scientific journal. Identify where the intended audience is looking and post away!

Ready to get started?

If you need further guidance in starting, polishing, or marketing your whitepaper, let us help! With our team of experts, Elite Editing can make sure your business has a whitepaper it can be proud of.


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