How Post and Pray Syndrome Kills White Paper ROI

May 28, 2019 by
Post and pray syndrome

A few years ago, I conducted a survey of technology company websites to benchmark the frequency of the deadliest errors tech companies make in creating and promoting white papers. A mistake I encountered frequently is what I call “post and pray” syndrome: Merely posting white papers on the corporate website and praying prospects will find them.

Nearly 58% of the websites on which I found white papers made absolutely no effort to call white papers to visitors’ attention. White papers were not advertised on the home page or on relevant product pages. There was no evidence of integration with other marketing efforts. I could find no landing pages linked to online ads, email marketing, social media, etc.

White papers on these post and pray sites were usually buried several clicks deep on a ‘resources’ or ‘downloads’ page. Sometimes, they could only be found through keyword search.

The problem with a post and pray strategy is obvious. If prospects don’t know your white paper exists, don’t see promotions for it, and can’t easily find it while browsing your website, you will realize very little ROI. The effort and expense you put into creating that white paper will be wasted.

The Cure for Post and Pray Syndrome

The cure is to give your prospects multiple paths to your white papers. In other words, make it very easy for visitors to find your white papers on your website and build campaigns to drive traffic to them.

Advertise your white papers through a variety of channels. Feature them prominently on your home page and related product pages. Promote them in your social media channels, your company newsletter or e-zine, as well as trade journals. Consider placing banner ads on relevant industry websites.

Why not offer your white paper to prospects in a direct mail package? Or in an email message. Eccolo Media found that a download from a direct response campaign was the second most frequently used channel for receiving a white paper. [i]

You can provide links to your white papers in webinars, podcasts, and social media posts.

White paper syndication sites, like Find White Papers, IDG TechNetwork and TechTarget, not only put your white paper where thousands of technology professionals are searching for them. They’ll also suggest it to technology professionals who have expressed interest in similar white papers.

And where should all that advertising direct your prospect?

A landing page for every white paper

I would suggest a dedicated landing page on your website.

Having a landing page for each of your featured white papers – instead of piling them together with all your other collateral on a “resources” page—gains you several advantages.

A dedicated landing page describes your white paper in isolation from other offers. This increases its perceived value and reduces the likelihood your prospect will be distracted while evaluating it. And as previously mentioned, providing several paragraphs of description also increases conversions.

Plus, “selling” your white paper on the landing page greatly reduces the amount of selling you have to do in any paid advertising that links to it. So you reduce your lead-gen advertising costs, as well.

Take-Away Points

  1. Merely posting a white paper on your website and praying prospects will find it – as many tech companies do – is not going to provide much return on your white paper investment.
  2. Just like products and services, white papers need to be promoted to your target audience through your various marketing channels.
  3. When promoting your white papers, don’t just send prospects to a resources page or download library. Send them to a dedicated landing page that provides more information and increases the perceived value of your white paper.

Next Steps

This is the tenth and final installment a series of excerpts from CopyEngineer’s newly updated special report, 10 Common Mistakes that Kill White Paper ROI: How to Avoid Them and Generate More Leads. To get your free copy of the report, click here.

Need expert help with planning and developing a new white paper for your company? Call CopyEngineer at (+39) 011 569 4951. Or drop me an email at info@copyengineer.com. I’ll be happy to schedule a call and discuss your project with you.


References

[i]   Eccolo Media 2009 B2B Technology Collateral Survey, www.eccolomedia.com, September 2009.

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