White Paper Lead Generation: Using Educational Resources to SellHelping prospective customers learn about solutions that fit their needs and ultimately your solution involves a lot of moving pieces.

Targeted social media updates, blog posts, email campaigns and even video marketing efforts all play an important role in building a relationship with a customer.

Today we’d like to talk about another important part of an effective content marketing strategy: white paper lead generation.

White papers fall into the content category of educational resources. They help prospective customers learn more about different products or services that they might consider, and they help frame the purchase decision in your company's favor.

They also help position your company to guide the conversation and become a trustworthy resource along the buyer's journey.

That said, some marketers think white papers are a content cure-all, when that’s simply not the case.

Here’s a look at what educational resources do and don’t do when it comes to helping customers along in the buying process.

What Downloadable Educational Resources Don’t Do

While premium content assets like white papers can do a lot for your lead generation efforts, there’s a number of things they won’t do:

  • White papers won’t make a sale. When someone downloads a white paper from your website, they are just doing research. it might be early-stage research or perhaps they are putting together a case for presentation to a larger group of decision makers. White papers are just one step in the customer buying cycle. These content opportunities can do a lot of things, but they usually don't close a sale for you independently.
  • White papers won’t brainwash a client. You can’t expect your buyer to turn on a dime with a single white paper. The goal of white paper lead generation is not to change a prospective customer’s mind but to be a tool of growth for that customer to consider all sides of a product or service.
  • White papers won’t replace blog posts. All words are not equal, and all words do not serve the same purpose. The words of a premium content download are designed to educate, inform, and position your brand. They will not replace the words of a blog post designed to bring in search engine traffic or build an ongoing relationship with a customer.

White paper lead generation provides your business with an opportunity to share your unique perspective and skills as a customer researches an upcoming purchase. Create your white papers with a confident understanding of what they will and will not do for your business and they’ll be a valuable tool in your lead generation arsenal.

What Downloadable Educational Resources Actually Do

The above limitations aside, white papers can have a powerful effect on the ROI of your marketing strategy. Here’s what they can do for you:

  • White papers educate. First and foremost, white paper lead generation provides you with direct access to your customer’s ear. When a customer enters the educational stage, everything he reads impacts his decision. If you make your case in a reasonable way, sans sales pitch, then your voice will matter in the decision, too.
  • White papers identify and speak to your customer’s interests. White papers give you a spotlight opportunity to show prospective customers what you have in common. When someone downloads a white paper, it indicates their level of interest and the actionability of your services. Both are strong indicators that you can use to inform and tweak your sales and marketing process.
  • White papers guide people through the buyer’s journey. Where blog posts build the relationship and draw people in, white paper lead generation turns curiosity into action. White papers signify a strong push on the buyer’s journey and can help you guide that journey to the final destination: a sale.
  • White papers fill your lead pipeline with warm leads. You won't generate more leads with a blog alone. Pair a detailed, objective white paper with a blog to increase lead flow and deliver more sale opportunities. Don't like cold calling? People are willing to give their name and contact information to download helpful information, and your sales team will have warm leads to follow up on.
  • White papers are sharable. B2B purchase decisions don't happen in a vacuum. Sharing educational resources can help get a stakeholder group up to speed and shorten the sales cycle.
  • White papers will establish a relationship of trust. Perhaps most important of all, premium content indicates expertise, thought leadership, and trustworthiness. Especially when that white paper is cited by other sources or downloaded independently of your website.

Want to learn more about how to use downloadable content like white papers to deliver more sales opportunities from your website? Download the guide below to learn more.
How to attract and sell to more customers using your website
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