17 April 2024

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

Updated April 2024: 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. White papers and ebooks 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 white paper vs ebook debate.

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

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

Hi SaaS marketers! Emily Amos here from Uplift Content.

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

Let’s walk through both types of content.

#1: White papers vs ebooks

As long-form, educational marketing content, white papers are often persuasive, authoritative, in-depth reports on a specific topic. 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—and then provides a proposed solution in persuasive detail. This solution can include your company’s 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.

Check out our white paper writing service.

#2: eBooks vs white papers

Like white papers, ebooks are also educational in nature. But they’re more suitable for high-level, non-technical content, 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.

Check out our ebook writing service.

White paper vs ebook for different stages of the buyer’s journey

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

White papers can work well at both the “awareness” stage of the buyer’s journey as well as the “decision” stage.

They work at the awareness stage because, depending on how they’re written, they can answer questions, be a resource, and provide research data, opinions and insights—helping the reader identify an opportunity or pain point.

White papers can also work at the decision stage if they are written so that they help the reader evaluate options. This, for example, could take the form of a buyer’s guide.

In contrast to white papers, ebooks tend to perform best at the “awareness” stage because readers are looking for help to solve a problem, answer a question or meet a need. These readers are looking for educational content to help guide them to a solution, and an ebook can be just what they need.

What’s next?

You’re now clear on the difference between a white paper vs ebook. 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 her team in creating done-for-you case studies, ebooks and blog posts for high-growth SaaS companies like ClickUp, Calendly and WalkMe. Connect with Emily on Linkedin

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