7 Features of Highly Effective White Papers

White papers can be valuable lead generation tools, helping to bring new potential customers into your sales pipeline. However, only highly effective white papers can convert, so it’s essential to commit enough time and resources to get it right.

Here are seven features that will help you put the very best content out into the world – and increase the likelihood of capturing valuable leads.

Want to develop a winning content marketing strategy for your organization? Check out Simplilearn’s Advanced Content Marketing Course.

1. Exciting yet Concise Title

Your title is the very first thing your readers will see. Therefore, a compelling white paper needs to have an intriguing title. 

Your title should not only tell your readers exactly what to expect from your white paper. But it should also be interesting to keep their attention. How do you write a title that meets the criteria?

  • Write for your audience

    To keep your readers reading, you need to craft a title targeted at their pain points or interests.
  • Explain the Benefits

    How does this white paper benefit the reader? Try to include language about how your content solves their problem.
  • Use a Number

    One way to make your title more interesting to readers is to start it with a number as we did with this article, often referred to as a “listicle."

2. Stunning Visuals

Let’s be honest: You are more likely to read through an entire white paper when it is visually exciting.

White papers resembling a Word document are boring. So to make your whitepaper effective, you should create graphic design. That aligns with your brand, moves the eye naturally through the content, and accurately represents your industry, readers, and type of content. 

Here is an example of a white paper design from Simplilearn:

3. Easy-to-read Format

It should be effortless for your readers to move through your content, and the best way to do this is to break it up into easily-digestible bits of information.

You can achieve this in several ways, including:

  • Craft short paragraphs of 1-2 sentences
  • Break large sections into bulleted lists
  • Balance pages with copy and graphics
  • Present statistics in a visual form rather than text
  • Consider pulling strong quotes and key takeaways into highlighted boxes that attract attention 

4. Compelling Data

Highly effective white papers use data to support the content and prove the point that the paper intends to make. 

Statistics, percentages, and demographic data not only strengthen your message but also demonstrate your knowledge of the industry and customer pain points as well. 

Here’s a new and exciting set of data about white papers:

(Source: compose.ly)

5. Quotes from Experts

Another effective way to support your white paper content is to include quotes from influential figures in your industry about the topic. This step will add credibility to the point you’re getting at. If you are unfamiliar with the top influencers or those about your audience, then take some time to research them and find quotes that relate to your content.

6. Current Information 

Your readers will feel more confident in your white paper when the content is up-to-date. And they’ll have greater trust in your business.

If your white paper includes outdated information, then be sure to update it with content that reflects the current situation regularly. For example, a 2019 white paper that cites salary data from a 2012 report not only provides inaccurate information to your readers; it can come off as lazy. 

7. Conversational Tone

Just as you would establish a comfortable presence with an in-person prospect, you want to create a white paper that is equally approachable. Many marketers assume white papers need to be written like a report; straightforward and dry. However, like any other content, the goal should be to entertain the audience while educating them about the topic.  

The best way to do this is to craft copy that is conversational and friendly. Instead of putting out stiff, awkward content, consider hiring a copywriter who knows how to win over your readers with the right words. Keep in mind that the style, tone, and voice of your whitepaper should be consistent with your brand’s overall voice. 

How good is your knowledge on content marketing and its nuances? Well take up answering these Content Marketing Practice Test Questions and find out now!

Learn More about White Papers and Content Marketing

Hiring a copywriter is not an option, and you need to strengthen your content writing skills to up your white paper game. Consider refreshing your content marketing skills. Check out Simplilearn’s Advanced Content Marketing Course, which is designed to help you master the various aspects of planning and executing content marketing strategies. It will help to create compelling content with greater efficiency and impact.

About the Author

Rob SandersRob Sanders

Rob Sanders is a digital marketing veteran with over 20 years of experience. During that time, Rob has helped a wide range of companies utilize new and emerging technologies to increase sales and profitability. As founder of RSO Consulting, Rob helps clients maximize their digital marketing efforts via SEO, SEM, SMO, and Web Analytics. He is responsible for many facets of the web analytics value chain, from identifying business goals and objectives to developing strategies and translating those into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Rob also teaches digital marketing and analytics classes throughout the U.S. and abroad. As a contributor for Simplilearn, Rob creates expert thought leadership content on a variety of digital marketing and analytics topics.

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