White papers are an effective tool for generating leads and demonstrating thought leadership. But making sure you have the right B2B SaaS white paper topics is crucial to your content’s effectiveness. Your white paper needs to showcase your company’s expertise while being interesting and valuable to your audience. Here are 5 ways to get started.
How to generate compelling SaaS white paper topics
1. Find white paper topics by getting inside your customer’s mind
To create a white paper that your audience will want to read, you need to deeply understand them and the challenges they are facing. Talking directly with your prospects and customers is one of the best ways to gain this knowledge. Conducting one-on-one interviews with your customers—or questionnaires, if interviews aren’t possible—will give you a treasure trove of insights that you can use to decide on a SaaS white paper topic.
Your sales reps and customer support teams have regular contact with your prospects and customers, and can offer feedback on what questions come up regularly in their conversations. Find out where your sales reps see the most resistance from prospects and consider if writing a white paper could help overcome these obstacles within your sales cycle.
Review mining is another way to better understand your customers and generate ideas for white paper topics. Monitor what people are saying on software review sites such as Capterra and G2, or wherever your SaaS is featured. You don’t have to limit yourself to your own customers, either. Look at reviews for your competitors’ products, or similar products and services, and use them to brainstorm ideas.
2. Discover white paper topics by listening actively on social media
Know where your audience spends time online and pay attention to what they’re talking about. Look for recurring themes—what questions, problems or trends keep showing up?
Check out what questions people in your industry are asking on Quora, or search Reddit by keyword. Follow industry hashtags on Twitter or explore what’s trending as it relates your business. Read the comments on industry blog posts, and stay up to date with what’s popular in communities on LinkedIn and Slack. The best part? You don’t have to do this work manually. There are several social listening tools available that can help.
You can even run a poll on social media to generate SaaS white paper topic ideas. Let your audience tell you what their biggest challenges are by asking them directly, as opposed to simply making assumptions. Going straight to the source will save you time in the long run.
3. Uncover white paper topics by analyzing your competitors
Just as you need to look at what your audience is talking about, also find out what your competitors are talking about to get inspiration for white paper topics. The white papers and other content they publish can give you ideas of what might serve your target market well, too. Use SEO tools such as Ahrefs and Buzzsumo to find the top-performing content on competitors’ websites, and consider if those topics would fit your audience and business goals.
Don’t straight-up copy ideas from your competitors. Rehashing the same tired subject matter isn’t going to capture your audience’s interest. Instead, think about how you can offer a fresh perspective on the content your competitors are publishing. What can you add to the conversation? Or, what are your competitors not addressing? How can you fill the gaps?
4. Unearth white paper topics by taking cues from content you’ve already published
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when you’re searching for a SaaS white paper topic. Use your website analytics tool to see which blog posts on your site are most popular with your visitors. Because your audience has already shown interest in this content, these posts are excellent candidates for white paper topics. Consider how your high-traffic blog posts could be expanded. What’s missing from them? What’s changed in your industry since they were written?
Bonus: if you can repurpose your popular blog posts into white paper content, this approach will save you time and resources when writing your white paper.
5. Generate white paper topics by interviewing industry influencers and leaders
Who are the key players in your industry? By tapping into their knowledge, you can add to your list of ideas for compelling SaaS white paper topics. Interview industry influencers and experts if possible, or look at what topics feature in their LinkedIn discussions, conference presentations or articles in industry publications.
If you do interview industry leaders, make sure to include quotes from them in your white paper and ask them for feedback on the white paper before you publish it. Adding quotes from credible experts into your white paper strengthens the content and increases your brand’s credibility.
Now that you know how to find white paper topics that your audience will love, it’s time to create a white paper outline with our simple formula for SaaS success.
This is the fourth post in a 9-part series called the Ultimate Guide to Writing a White Paper for B2B SaaS.
Download our white paper topic generator
Never get stuck finding white paper topics again. Grab our topic generator worksheet. Here’s what you’ll find inside:
- 9 questions to ask to create fresh new content that drives traffic, leads and sales
- Real-life examples from other SaaS marketers that will help you generate content ideas
- Tools to help you speed up the research process and identify relevant topics