What Is a White Paper? [FAQs]

The definition of a whitepaper varies closely from trade to trade, which is usually a little complicated for entrepreneurs trying to create one for his or her enterprise.

content team working on the design of a whitepaper

The old-school definition comes from politics, the place it means a legislative doc explaining and supporting a specific political resolution.

In tech, a whitepaper normally describes a concept behind a brand new piece of expertise. Even a enterprise whitepaper can serve quite a lot of makes use of and audiences — some extra product-focused than others. And though it’s put collectively like an book, the 2 are written fairly otherwise.

→ Download Now: 36 Free Ebook Templates

We’re right here to arm you with the finest definition of a whitepaper within the context of enterprise and what to do (and never do) as you create one. This text covers: 

What Is a Whitepaper?

A whitepaper is a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report on a selected subject that presents an issue and offers an answer.

Entrepreneurs create whitepapers to teach their viewers a couple of explicit problem, or clarify and promote a specific methodology. They’re superior problem-solving guides. Usually, whitepapers require at the least an electronic mail tackle for obtain (normally they require info greater than that), making them nice for capturing leads.

What Is not a Whitepaper?

A product pitch.

Though Investopedia defines a whitepaper as “an informational doc issued by an organization to advertise or spotlight the options of an answer, product, or service,” be warned that overtly shilling your personal stuff might flip off your readers.

The purpose of a whitepaper is to tell and persuade based mostly on info and proof, not inform the world why folks want to purchase your product proper now.

How Are Whitepapers Totally different From Weblog Posts and Ebooks?

Talking of what a whitepaper is not … in case you’re in search of a fast and interactive strategy to current your worth to the trade, a whitepaper just isn’t your solely choice. There are additionally ebooks and weblog posts — each of which have numerous variations from a whitepaper.

What actually set these merchandise aside are the scale, look, and time dedication of every one. Whereas writing weblog posts and ebooks can take anyplace between just a few hours and some weeks, a superb whitepaper can take between just a few weeks and some months to write down and polish. They’re much less flashy, way more severe in tone, and extra closely researched than weblog posts and ebooks.

Let me present you a comparability. The set beneath is considered one of our personal book templates (which you may get without cost right here). It is a thorough however easy learn:

Cover of a free ebook template offered by HubSpot  Page from a free ebook template offered by HubSpot

Now, here’s a whitepaper based mostly on our newest analysis on rising tech for small to mid-sized companies (an excellent report — see the online model right here). You possibly can see how a lot element whitepapers can go into, each in textual content and in its photographs:

hubspot research whitepaper cover that reads: "a practical approach to emerging tech for smbs"   hubspot research whitepaper internal page that is about why blockchain mattersPhotographs through HubSpot Analysis [PDF]

Ebooks and whitepapers can begin on the identical template. However finally, whitepapers are the educational papers of promoting content material. Readers count on a excessive diploma of experience backed by stable analysis that’s totally documented by references.

Ebooks, alternatively, are sometimes extensions of a topic you cowl recurrently on a weblog. They’ll come out of diligent analysis, however they enchantment to a wider viewers when unpacking a enterprise topic.

You possibly can think about this makes them form of boring compared — in truth, most individuals do not really need to learn whitepapers, however they do it anyway to construct their information of an operation they want extra perception on earlier than making their subsequent transfer.

Because of this, they are usually notably detailed and informative, authoritative, and written by trade consultants. And these qualities could make some determination makers really feel higher a couple of future buy.

What Makes a Good Whitepaper?

Technically, there are not any minimal necessities for whitepapers. Anybody can name something a whitepaper — this doesn’t suggest it is best to, although. With out some boundaries on what’s and what is not a whitepaper, we danger complicated our viewers and dropping credibility. This is what an A+ whitepaper appears like:

  • Size: No fewer than six pages, together with illustrations, charts, and references. Will be upwards of fifty if the subject requires that a lot element. (Likelihood is, it will not.)
  • Construction: There’s normally a title web page, desk of contents, brief government abstract (elective however useful), introduction, a number of pages educating the reader about the issue, a number of pages hypothesizing an answer, a number of pages providing an instance of an organization that used that resolution to attain outcomes, and a conclusion.
  • Density: Denser than an book. Whitepapers aren’t normally straightforward to skim — the truth is, readers normally must learn them over greater than as soon as to get each morsel of data out of it.
  • Format: PDF in portrait orientation (8.5″ by 11″).
  • Model: Skilled, severe, effectively written, and effectively edited. I would suggest hiring a graphic designer to design web page structure, photographs, fonts, and colours as effectively.

Whitepaper Examples for Lead Era

So, if whitepapers are so boring, why do entrepreneurs create them? Properly, they’re an excellent useful resource on your prospects and gross sales group, they usually enable you construct credibility and belief together with your readers. Additionally, individuals who select to obtain whitepapers usually are additional into the buyer shopping for cycle.

With that in thoughts, listed below are two use circumstances for a whitepaper:

A Technical Case Examine

It has been mentioned that case research, like ebooks, are very completely different from whitepapers. Nonetheless, some case research are lengthy sufficient that they are finest packaged as whitepapers themselves.

A case research is actually the story of a buyer’s success reaching a purpose on account of their partnership with one other get together. This success is finest conveyed by means of sure metrics the shopper has agreed to be measured on. And relying on how technical or advanced the service is that they obtained, the extra analysis and element different potential prospects will wish to see as they proceed their purchaser’s journey.

Subsequently, case study-based whitepapers is usually a terrific manner of demonstrating thought management on a dense idea by means of a real-world instance of how this idea helped another person succeed.

A Reference Information

Think about you’re employed for a corporation that sells kitchen cleansing tools to eating places and also you write a whitepaper in regards to the upkeep and inspection of business kitchens.

That whitepaper might be chock stuffed with details about authorized necessities for exhaust techniques, cooking tools, and cleanliness documentation that might put even the largest kitchen upkeep fanatic to sleep if learn cover-to-cover.

However it additionally serves as an extremely helpful reference for restaurant homeowners who wish to know the way to preserve their kitchens to cross inspection. As soon as they understand how clear they should maintain their kitchens, they will doubtless purchase some costly cleansing tools from you as a result of they see you as a useful, detail-oriented, credible supply.

Many individuals create whitepapers for this goal — a useful resource that their leads can take with them to develop into higher at their commerce. Ideally, the higher they develop into, the extra certified they’re to work with the group that gave them the whitepaper.

Now that you already know the aim of whitepapers and the way they differ from ebooks, it is time to get began in creating your personal. With the above finest practices in thoughts, here is the strategy you’ll be able to take to provide a wonderful whitepaper on your viewers: 

1. Establish your viewers’s ache. 

When you’re an issue professional in a singular place to supply content material, it’s essential to contemplate your viewers and what’s going on of their lives. By making a whitepaper that addresses (and solves) for his or her wants, you may higher be capable to generate demand on your whitepaper. 

To do that, contemplate making a purchaser persona. This exercise will enable you put your self of their footwear. Then, you may wish to contemplate what sort of info would appeal to them, how they’d use the data, and the way it could resolve their ache or drawback. 

2. Do your analysis. 

Whitepapers are informational in nature, and you may wish to decide the way to present info your viewers cannot get elsewhere. You are able to do that by:

  • Working an authentic research/survey
  • Placing collectively distinctive case research
  • Detailing a singular course of or venture

When you’re unable to do your personal analysis, strive drawing statistics from authorities and/or survey organizations and analyzing them in a singular manner (and be sure you cite your sources).  

3. Create an overview. 

As a result of whitepapers are long-form in nature, an overview may also help manage your ideas. Take into account sketching out your subject within the following format: 

  1. Introduction and Synopsis – Introducing the subject of the whitepaper, explaining why it is vital (from the standpoint of the viewers), and what the whitepaper units to do, convey, or resolve. 
  2. Overview – Defining some a few of the key phrases you propose to make use of, detailing the variables or parameters concerned, and summarizing what you may focus on. 
  3. Physique – Laying out all the important thing factors and highlights you may hit. 
  4. Conclusion – Explaining the important thing take-aways from the physique and any motion objects the reader ought to take.

4. Put pen to paper and flesh out your define. 

Utilizing an informational and fact-based tone, start increasing on the concepts you will have by utilizing the define as a information. As well as, every paragraph ought to contribute to the general purpose of the piece. 

5. Use imagery to help your factors. 

As a result of whitepapers go deep on analysis and evaluation, visuals comparable to charts, graphs, and tables may also help you current info in a visually fascinating manner and make the paper simpler to learn. 

6. Get suggestions. 

It’s important to current the very best write-up you’ll be able to on your readers. The upper high quality it’s, the extra authority you may have in your viewers’s eyes. Get suggestions from somebody you belief to catch typos or different points with readability. 

7. Put money into the formatting and design. 

Whereas it isn’t essential to get too flashy with it, colour, structure, and imagery goes an extended strategy to make your whitepaper interesting. 

Whitepaper Examples

To supply much more inspiration, listed below are fashionable examples of whitepapers which are emblematic of nice whitepaper execution (and why):

1. Not One other State of Advertising and marketing Report, HubSpot

HubSpot does a tremendous job yearly compiling information from consultants and companions to convey fashionable traits within the advertising and marketing panorama. That is helpful for entrepreneurs as a result of they’ll use the statistics to create advertising and marketing and gross sales content material in addition to study from the macro shifts which are taking place within the trade. The whitepaper presents this info with engaging graphs and brief editorial summaries together with hyperlinks to extra in-depth articles on every subject.

hubspot whitepaper example: "not another state of marketing report" cover for 2020

Picture Supply

2. It is Not You, It is My Knowledge, Custora

Custora created this whitepaper about buyer churn, why it is vital, and the way to forestall it. What makes this book nice is that it guarantees concrete worth to the reader (income financial savings from stopping attrition) backed by a wealth of knowledge and actionable recommendation. Even higher, the whitepaper is fashionable and engaging, so the studying expertise is nice. This helps the reader eat the long-form content material with out friction.

custora whitepaper example: "it's not you, it's my data" cover that reads "leveraging customer analytics to build a scalable customer churn prevention system"

Picture Supply

3. Google Cloud’s AI Adoption Framework, Google

This whitepaper leverages Google’s authority to influence the reader into adopting AI. By offering a strategy to start with, Google goals to offer the reader the instruments to assume by means of the ability of AI as it may be utilized to their enterprise. Then, the whitepaper dives into extra technical info for superior readers.

google whitepaper example: cover that reads "google cloud's AI adoption framework"

Picture Supply

4. Staff and Cybersecurity, Excedeo

Excedo goals to teach in regards to the safety dangers that staff might unknowingly pose to companies when improperly educated. The whitepaper advocates in regards to the kinds of inside IT insurance policies and coaching which are important in right now’s world.

excedo whitepaper example: first page that reads "employees and cyber security" and an introduction to the topic

Picture Supply

Whitepapers have an extended historical past, and their makes use of have continued to alter. Make sure to resolve whether or not or not a whitepaper will really serve your viewers earlier than spending the months-long course of to provide it. Generally, an book will do exactly high quality. Alternatively, long-form instructional content material has a spot in your content material technique.

New Call-to-action


Editor’s notice: This put up was initially printed in March 2018 and has been up to date for comprehensiveness.

Supply hyperlink