White papers have stood the test of time in popularity over the years. They have always been my best resource for inspiring first-time readers to sign-up for my list. Whitepapers are usually more step-by-step and how-to oriented and more detailed than a “free report” but not as long as an entire e-book, but yet, longer than a typical article you see in blog posts.
People who hate writing…simply love writing white papers because they’re so easy and fast to produce. Subscribers love them because they have (or should have) exceptional value in a small package, usually 3-20 pages.
For those reasons, I believe every website should have at least one core whitepaper to give away as incentive for a subscription to a list. And here are three steps to get you started.
1. Choose a HOT Topic for Your White Paper
No matter what industry you’re in, there is a hot topic out there somewhere. You need to choose one that appeals to a broad audience. My 101TrafficMethods.com whitepaper is a good example.
Everyone in the Internet marketing industry wants more traffic to their Web site, right?
Having a bit of intrigue in your headline is a good idea too. Words like “taboos” and “secrets” and “avoid” bring a little edge to your topic. You want your headline to make people think, “oooo, what’s that?”
2. Format Your Whitepaper with Purpose
Avoid simply throwing together a bunch of text for a white paper. You do want people to actually read what you’ve painstakenly written. Higher quality writing keeps your readers engaged.
Here are a few more tips while I’m on the subject of whitepaper formatting:
- Choose a format that allows for simple reading and fast writing, trebuchet font or verdana are best.
- Describe the problem and why you chose to write the whitepaper in the first place.
Use short paragraphs, highlighed titles and sub-titles.
- Present 15 to 25 steps or points or more that describe what people can do right now to help with the problem, even if that means not hiring you to help them….anything less is just an article.
- Address the most common expectation first.
- The last point or step should be the most important toward getting people to do something next. Give them a reason to pick up the phone and call you. Offer a free consult by phone or even in-person.
- Print the document to a PDF (using Adobe’s full version or some other free online PDF creator) and post the PDF to your website where you will direct people to the url such as mywebsite.com/mywhitepaper.pdf
3. Send More Emails to Reinforce the Whitepaper
When I first released a white paper to my existing subscriber list, I had them go sign-up for it. Yes, even though they were on my list already, I had them sign-up to be on another listA segmented list.
Once they received the first email providing them with a link to get the white paper, they were invited to check out follow-up emails that would help them more with the topic that was discussed in the white paper.
But, I encouraged them to read the white paper first so that the follow-up emails would make sense.
So, create short educational messages about how to put the information in the white paper to best use and to get people to actually take the actions you’re suggesting.