Publishing white papers is an excellent way to generate leads while showcasing your B2B SaaS company as a thought leader in your industry. But where do you begin when creating this type of long-form content? In this ultimate guide to writing a white paper, we’ll cover 8 key steps.
Your Guide to Writing a White Paper
Writing a white paper is a time consuming process that often requires intensive research. However, you don’t have to start from scratch to figure out the best way to get the job done. Let’s get into the details with this white paper guide for B2B SaaS marketers.
- Understand what constitutes a B2B SaaS white paper
- Know when your company needs a white paper vs. an ebook
- Become a whiz at generating compelling white paper topics
- Master the B2B SaaS white paper outline formula
- Dig into the 10 steps to writing a white paper
- Learn 3 ways to cite sources in a white paper
- Explore 5 B2B SaaS white paper design best practices
- Find out 8 ways to promote your white paper to drive downloads
1. Understand what constitutes a B2B SaaS white paper
No guide to writing a white paper would be complete without first delving into what the heck a white paper is—a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report on a specific topic. B2B SaaS white papers present a challenge around a particular subject, then offer solutions. This type of content is often used to target decision makers interested in a certain industry trend or technology.
Over 70% of B2B buyers reference white papers when considering whether to make a purchase, and more than 50% of advertisers consider this type of content valuable for lead generation. Creating white papers helps position your SaaS company as a reputable source.
2. Know when your company needs a white paper vs. an ebook
eBooks and white papers are both powerful B2B SaaS marketing tools. In this white paper guide, we’ll break down their differences.
Here are a few characteristics of white papers:
- Long-form, educational, and full of research and data
- Written in an authoritative, academic tone for an audience familiar with the topic
- Used to demonstrate a company’s value, or present new research or thought leadership
In contrast, here are a few characteristics of ebooks:
- Educational in nature, but written in a more casual, introductory tone than white papers
- Feature more white space and design elements than white papers
- Interactive and actionable, with concrete steps to solve a specific problem
3. Become a whiz at generating compelling white paper topics
First, you must understand your market and their challenges to land on a white paper topic that your audience will find interesting. Find out what makes them tick by frequenting the social networks they use most to see what they’re posting. From there, find out what your competitors are writing about to get inspiration for white paper topics.
Tap into your website analytics tool to see which blog posts on your site get the most hits. These posts are excellent candidates for white paper topics. Another way to generate ideas is to interview industry experts if you have the opportunity.
4. Master the B2B SaaS white paper outline formula
Developing an outline is one of the most important aspects in any guide to writing a white paper, and breaks the content creation process into manageable steps. Once you have a white paper topic, brainstorm a few title ideas for your outline. Then, jot down some key insights you want to convey in your white paper and group the ideas into sections.
Next, review each section to fill in gaps and organize the content. List your source material in your outline, and share the outline with subject matter experts for feedback before writing your white paper draft.
5. Dig into the 10 steps to writing a white paper
You’re ready to start writing! You’ve got a good grip on what your audience wants to read about, and you have a solid topic and a robust outline. Now it’s time to ensure you present a fresh perspective from other similar B2B SaaS white papers.
Set aside time for writing, and additional research as needed. Once you have a first draft, thoroughly edit your white paper and get someone on your team to review the content. While they’re doing this, you can prepare your white paper landing page.
6. Learn 3 ways to cite sources in a white paper
No guide to writing a white paper would be complete without explaining how to properly cite sources in a white paper. In the marketing world, the most common method to cite sources is to hyperlink paraphrased arguments and research from other websites back to the original content.
You may also want to quote an expert directly. In this case, copy and paste the source’s words into your white paper. Put quotation marks around the copied text and credit the source, linking to the original content.
7. Explore 5 B2B SaaS white paper design best practices
A white paper guide should focus on design in addition to writing. Good design starts with a compelling white paper cover page. Your white paper should also be easy to navigate and feature high quality photos.
To help readers digest the content in your white paper, use callout boxes to bring attention to the most important points. Complementing or replacing written statistics with graphs and charts is also an effective design technique. Finally, don’t forget to include a designed call to action to encourage readers to get on your email list, schedule a product demo or talk to a sales rep.
8. Find out 8 ways to promote your white paper to drive downloads
Before you can generate leads from a white paper, you need your audience to know you’ve published one. This is why it’s essential to promote your white paper in your email marketing, on social media and through partnerships.
As part of your content strategy, you should also write blog posts that funnel readers to your white paper. And don’t forget to create a strong landing page that provides a preview of the value readers will get when they download your white paper.
Now that you’ve got this guide to writing a white paper in your toolkit, it’s time to get clear on what constitutes a SaaS white paper.
This is the first post in a 9-part series called the Ultimate Guide to Writing a White Paper for B2B SaaS.
A hands-on guide to writing a white paper
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