Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Easy Tip: Maximizing Your Whitepaper Downloads

I'm going through my old emails and I found one of those rare MarketingSherpa studies that are "open to the public". This is a great one that focuses on B2B lead generation.

Effectiveness of white papers in B2B marketing

As you can see from the chart, people who are accessing white papers less frequently would prefer not to have to fill out a form. Really? I don't think you knew that! It's pretty obvious that we all hate filling out a form. Just give us the damn white paper!

One item that Anne mentioned in her audio for this presentation gave me an idea. She says "If you want your white paper to go viral, you need to loosen the strings early on and get rid of those barriers. Set the white paper free!" They're right that if you just allow a user to access a white paper without placing a barrier in front of it, you'll turn a lot less people away. But what about your lead generation efforts? How do you grow your lead funnel? We know from previous studies that web visitors will fill out a form if it's easy and the page provides a good summary as to what they can expect. How can we have our cake and eat it too?

Add a Little Viral Marketing, Get a Bigger Bang Out of Your Marketing Buck

Ok, so here is my idea. If your white paper is good and you've followed the landing page best practices, you'll get some web visitors to download it. Now what? When the person fills out a form, some marketers push them directly through to the white paper which is a good idea as it's one less click if they first go to a confirmation page. Why not also send them a confirmation email with the white paper as a link in the email? Your copy could be something like this:

Thanks for downloading the white paper on XXXXX (link to the white paper). If you know someone who may find this useful, feel free to forward it on to them.

In the above example, the web visitor gets a reminder via email as to what they downloaded and now they can easily forward it on to other people within their organization. The copy above spells this out which may be needed for some folk.

Kicking Viral Marketing Up a Notch - Turning the follow up email into Lead Generation

How could we improve the example above? For starters, we could have added a second paragraph with a link that says:

Interested in learning more about xxxxx (your company's specialty)? Sign up for our monthly newsletter!

If the email was forwarded on, and another person viewed the white paper, they can now easily click on the newsletter sign up link and add their email to your list. They'll be more inclined to do this because:
  • Their friend recommended your company to them
  • They just read an interesting white paper that their friend sent them and want to learn more.
You've just added an additional lead generation weapon! You can make this email more interactive by using dynamic content based on the subject matter of the email. For example, if the white paper was focused on a specific industry or targeted a specific business group, your email content could reflect this. However, you never now who this may get emailed to and it's best to keep it generic.

Kicking Viral up a Further Notch: Using B2C techniques

You can also turn this into a bit of a contest that you see more in the B2C realm. What if you gave an incentive to the original white paper recipient to forward it to 5 of their friends and they could be entered into a draw to win an IPhone? Has anyone tried this? This would encourage a more viral effect so it would be interesting to see the results of this.

Hopefully these ideas inspired you to further maximize your white papers and other website downloads.

Chad H.

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