17 March 2020

eBook vs White Paper: How to Decide Which One to Create

As a marketer, there’s a limit to your time and resources, so you need to be strategic about which type of content you produce. eBooks and white papers are both powerful B2B SaaS marketing tools, and although the names for these assets are sometimes used interchangeably, each has its own unique strengths. In this video, we’ll break down the ebook vs white paper debate.

Need a hand writing your B2B SaaS content? Check out our ebook writing service and our white paper writing service.

eBook vs White Paper: How to Decide Which One to Create (Transcript)

Hi SaaS marketers! Emily Amos here from Uplift Content.

If you’ve ever wondered whether to create an ebook vs white paper, this video will give you some clarity. While they’re both important SaaS marketing tools, ebooks and white papers have different audiences and purposes.

Let’s walk through both types of content.

#1: White papers

As long-form, educational marketing content, white papers are often rich in data and has an authoritative, academic tone. Brands usually use white papers to demonstrate their company’s value, present new research on a topic or provide thought leadership.

The format of a white paper (compared to an ebook) usually includes a challenge section up front—similar to a B2B SaaS case study—then provides a proposed solution in persuasive detail. This solution can include your company’s own products or services.

The audience for a white paper typically includes readers who already have some familiarity with the subject matter. White papers (not ebooks) are usually research-intensive and require interviews with subject matter experts, as well as the use of source material like industry reports to cover a topic to a level of detail that provides real value to readers. Because of this, white papers differ from ebooks in that they’re usually longer.

Get a few tips here on how to write a white paper that positions you as a thought leader.

#2: eBooks

Like white papers, ebooks are also educational in nature. However, ebooks are usually written in a more casual tone, similar to a “how to” guide. eBooks tend to feature more white space and more design elements than white papers and offer digestible chunks of information rather than academic text.

Two main benefits of ebooks (versus white papers) are that they’re interactive and actionable. eBooks often provide readers with concrete steps they can take to solve a specific problem, and are typically geared at readers who would benefit from a more general overview of the subject rather than a deep dive.

Learn how to write an ebook title that lands sales.

Content strategy for different stages of the buyer’s journey

When you’re trying to decide between creating a ebook vs white paper, you need to evaluate which one performs better at the various stages of the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration or decision. Choose an ebook or white paper carefully because your goal with the content is to progress the reader to the next stage of the journey.

White papers tend to resonate best with people in the “decision” stage of the buyer’s journey. This is largely due to the amount of prior knowledge that a white paper reader typically has on the topic. White papers (compared to ebooks) are a solid choice for positioning your company as a thought leader and getting in front of senior executives.

In contrast to white papers, ebooks tend to perform better at the “awareness” stage because they appeal to wider groups with general, rather than specific, knowledge of a subject. This makes ebooks an ideal choice for marketing to people who know they’re facing a challenge but don’t yet have a clear idea of the solution.

What’s next?

You’re now clear on the difference between an ebook vs white paper. It’s time to figure out how to generate compelling topics for your SaaS white papers.

This is the third post in an 9-part series called the Ultimate Guide to Writing a White Paper for B2B SaaS.

Get help with your white papers

Do you need an extra set of hands to help you produce your next white paper? Learn more about Uplift Content’s expertise in helping SaaS companies generate leads with well-written, informative and actionable white papers.

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Emily Amos

As the founder of Uplift Content, Emily leads teams in creating done-for-you case studies, ebooks and blog posts for high-growth SaaS companies. Check out her bio.

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