If you’re looking for information on how to use a blank piece of paper to generate leads, I’m afraid you’re not going to find it here. Try the magical land of fairies and unicorns instead. If, however, you’d like to learn how to write white papers that will increase your lead capture, you’ve come to the right place.
On top of this, you’ll find 20 awesome white paper template ideas included.
What is a White Paper?
Different industries define white papers differently. White papers are used in politics, business, technical fields, and marketing. In the most general of terms (a universal definition) could be that a white paper is an authoritative report that addresses certain issues and offers solutions for them.
Image credit: Artversion
The original definition comes from politics, where a white paper represents a legislative document that explains and supports a new political solution. In the tech world, on the other hand, a white paper represents a theory behind a new piece of technology. In the world of marketing, a white paper has become a powerful marketing tool used to provide information on or promote new product solutions.
So, the main purpose of a white paper is to educate people and guide them in making decisions. The main benefits are establishing authority and generating leads. Depending on the white paper template you decide to use, it may have a different appearance or present different information, but some of the main characteristics remain the same throughout most white paper template solutions.
The Main Characteristics of a Quality White Paper
Structure and Length
When it comes to structure, a white paper is structured similarly to a typical ebook, but the two are written quite differently. A bunch of different white paper template solutions can be found online but most of them have a similar structure. We’ll explore it in more detail later on. In terms of length, a white paper is usually a bit shorter than an ebook but somewhat longer than a blog post.
Format and Style
As already mentioned, format-wise a white paper looks somewhat similar to a typical research report or an average ebook. Technically, in most cases, it is formatted as a PDF. When it comes to style, a white paper should be formal and professional in tone. Something close to academic-style. Informative – ideally explores one topic in as much detail as possible.
You’d want a skilled designer (unless you are one) to create all the graphics for your white paper. In order to make their job easier, here is some data you could provide them with:
One of the important aspects of a white paper template design is the layout. When it comes to layout, the most popular choices are the one-column and the two-column layout.
How to Create a White Paper
The Ideation Stage
The first thing you have to do, after deciding to write a white paper is to define your target audience. You need to make sure you’re targeting the exact people who can help you achieve your goals. Once you’ve identified your audience, you need to identify the issues your product or service can help them solve. Finally, brainstorm some concrete ideas on how to present your solutions to your target audience.
Do Some (Original) Research
You’ve probably already done some research in the ideation stage, but here you should focus more on finding relevant and reliable data to support your claims. This is crucial, as quality white papers are always well-researched and based on facts. In order to establish yourself as an authoritative source, you should consider doing your own original research. It’s the most cumbersome but the most beneficial approach. In fact, some studies have shown that research can get you more links and shares than any other content form.
Write an Outline (a White Paper Template Outline Included)
- A working title. It doesn’t have to be your final solution of course.
- An executive summary. A short pitch or description of what your paper is going to be about. It doesn’t have to be long, around 200 words is fine.
- Introduction. Here you should create an overview of the main ideas.
- Section it into subheadings. Each subheading should present one idea that is expected to contribute to the final solution. Make sure to include bullet points in some subheadings (just like we did here).
- Conclusion. A summary of your key points.
The 5 Main Parts of a White Paper (Template)
The headline is your reader’s first contact with the content you’ve written. It’s really important that they get past reading the title. According to Copyblogger, 80% of people will read your title, but only 20% will proceed to read the entire piece of content. We’ve already taught you how to write quiz titles that actually get clicked, but it can be applied to the creation of other title forms as well. A great headline should set realistic expectations and establish a clear benefit for your readers. In addition to your headline, a title page should include your company logo, author info, and date.
Executive Summary (Abstract)
If the headline has for some reason failed, the executive summary is your backup option for grabbing the reader’s attention. Here, you have to convince them that they will find what they are looking for in your white paper and that it’s worth their time to read the entire thing. It should be short (around 200 words), clear, concise, and up to the point.
Once you’ve grabbed their attention, it’s time to make them keep on reading. The main purpose of a quality introduction is to state the problem and briefly present some of the main ideas that will be explored in more detail throughout the body of the white paper. The primary goal of a great introduction is to get the readers ‘hooked’ and make them read through the rest of the white paper. The best way to get them hooked is to explain what benefits they will get from reading your white paper.
The importance of a good outline is particularly evident when writing the body of a white paper, as it’s easy to get lost. So, it’s important to stick to the outline. A good outline can also be easily transformed into a white paper template.
The body of a white paper should be divided into separate sections and subsections, each exploring a different concept, approach, or an idea, but all sticking to the main topic. Additionally, each section is expected to deliver on the promises made in the title and the introduction. With most white papers, thematically, the body is divided into two parts – background/problem statement and solution.
The conclusion offers a brief summary of all the main points hinted at in the introduction and thoroughly explored throughout the body. It should also highlight the solution to the problem that was the main topic of the white paper in the first place.
How to Use a White Paper to Generate Leads
If you go online and try to download a white paper or a white paper template, in most cases you’ll be required to type in at least your email address. More often than not, they would ask for more information, such as your name, company, etc. This gives the white paper a certain lead-generation potential.
In the example above, taken from Curata’s website, the lead capture form is asking for quite a lot of information in order to let you download their white paper template. As white papers are becoming more and more popular in the marketing world, a well-designed one could probably bring you more leads than an average ebook.
20 Creative White Paper Template Ideas
In this article, we’ve shown you which basic elements every good white paper needs to have. The information provided in the article should be enough to enable you to create your own white paper. If you decide on writing the entire paper, it is expected to largely contribute to your business promotion, but it may also come in handy when it comes to lead generation.
In case you’re still short of ideas, on the links below you’ll find 20 white paper ideas (as promised in the headline):
Alternative Well-Proven Lead Generation Models to Consider
White papers are probably not the first thing that comes to one’s mind when talking about lead generation (which may be a good thing, as the competition is less fierce). There are, however, numerous other well-proven lead generation models to consider, some of which we list here:
- Ebooks. Some say the use of ebooks for lead generation is a thing of the past, but with a high-quality material and adequate promotion, you can still capture some serious leads using ebooks.
- Free video training or courses. Offer your audience the opportunity to learn something new for free, in return for some leads. Works like a charm.
- Free software. Basically, add the prefix ‘free’ next to anything and it instantly adds lead generation potential to it.
- Online quizzes. A hidden gem of lead generation. Online quizzes are the next big thing when it comes to capturing leads, due to their ever-increasing popularity on social media. If you’re looking to take your lead generation game to the next level, you should try creating your own online quiz right now.