According to a recent study by MarketingProfs, the most efficient content would be customer testimonials, case studies and live events. The white paper is losing the race to contestants that are easier to read. Are white papers going extinct? Are they losing speed compared to other sources of media information?
I found this article from MarketingProfs which discusses the content marketing trends in 2013. In order of most efficient to least efficient:
- – Customer testimonials
- – Case studies
- – Live events
- – Online articles
- – Videos
- – White papers
The article also states that white papers are declining in popularity to the detriment of content that’s easier to read and understand, like videos (Youtube).
Afterwards, I found another article that summarizes these results: “The end of whitepapers? 2013 B2B content marketing survey results.” I shared this on Twitter (which was also retweeted several times; a special thanks to @jacqueswarren and @elliott_jonesUK).
First of all, what is a white paper?
According to Wikipedia, “A white paper is an authoritative report or guide helping readers to understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.”
It’s a document that ranges in length from a few pages to several pages (they often start at around 10 pages, although I’ve already downloaded a 100-page long white paper). White papers usually present content in a highly visual way while streamlining the text, all of which gravitates around a specific theme.
A concrete example of a white paper in B2B marketing: You’re shopping for management software for your company’s marketing activities. You find a site that suggests you download a white paper for free, in exchange for your personal information (name, number, email, company name, etc.). This allows you to get information on the topic as well as on the proposed solution. From the company’s perspective, the information you supply will result in information being provided to you in the future (or lead nurturing), and, who knows, might end with a sale of their product?
Are white papers really doomed?
In my opinion, white papers are still a very relevant source of content for internet users, lead generators and lead nurturing tools for B2B companies. They’re rich in information and easily understood by internet users (do I need to remind you that internet users are lazy readers?).
Nevertheless, since writing a white paper requires a good deal of time and money, I think the white paper’s loss in popularity could very well continue. But don’t discard it too quickly, because it always generates leads and is an excellent way to recycle content (for example, regrouping blog posts on a specific theme to use key parts of them and thus write a white paper).