Create Once, Use Many

Deploying a web publication requires a different mindset from the standard PDF white paper distribution. In fact, it may even change how you create your thought leadership content in the first place.

Repurposing your content

Normally when we talk about using content to suit many different form factors, we think in terms of taking the traditional long-form white paper and slicing and dicing it, as needed. However, web designers are starting to take a "mobile first" approach and then building out for the desktop. The same stance makes sense when considering an interactive, web-based white paper.

It may be easier to create white papers if you think of "snackable" chunks right from the beginning. This means thinking in terms of short blocks of text (3oo words), lots of headings and sub-headings, callout quotes, relevant photographs and illustrations, video content, and design elements to make things interesting. Even consider an online form, a (moderated) comments block, or survey.

Starting with the interactive white paper as the base document greatly facilitates the process of repurposing content for any of the following:

  • a blog post on your website
  • a LinkedIn long-form article
  • a LinkedIn update to your connections, with links
  • a series of tweets, with links
  • a PowerPoint presentation with speaker notes
  • a SlideShare deck
  • a YouTube video based on the text and graphics
  • a podcast using the audio from the YouTube video
  • an infographic with highlights from the white paper
  • and even a PDF created from the digital publication, including a printed version to use as a handout at events.

"White papers don't exist in isolation but act as a member of an ecosystem. The related blog posts, landing pages, emails, social messages, and follow up sequences must all be carefully orchestrated and properly timed."

Foleon Inc.

Gating your white paper

White papers play an important role in lead generation. Attracting visitors to your website and offering them a white paper they are eager to read in exchange for for their contact information is a proven method for building a list of prospects.

Foleon looks at the question of whether to gate or not this way:

"While gating your best content is great for lead generation, there are some drawbacks as well. Walling off your white paper will mean it gets read by fewer people as not everyone is willing to give away their contact details.

An open-access white paper will be read by a wider audience. If it’s in-depth and authoritative, it may also do well organically and improve your search rankings. Gating it behind a form, however, will prevent search engines from indexing it.

It’s important to consider what the primary goal of your white paper is: disseminating information and gaining brand awareness or generating leads. If the latter is more important, then gating is a great option."

An excellent way to do this is by using social login to gate your white paper instead of a traditional form. This allows visitors to access your white paper with just one click. Not only does this dramatically reduce resistance, but it also gives you more information about your leads. LinkedIn and Facebook integrations can provide a user’s name and email address, but also their work history, educational history, skills, interests, and more.

A compromise approach is to not gate your white papers at all but have one more more item you offer at the end of the paper that does require personal information. This could be a checklist, or a research report, or special access to further resources. If readers part with their contact information after reading your white paper, there's a good chance that they are a qualified prospect.

The key to gating is to be sure that you are offering high-value content since you are asking users to "pay" by providing their contact information.

Take our poll

One advantage of a web-based white paper is that it is quite easy to add interactive content. Below is an example. After you vote you get to see the cumulative results.

In the next section, we'll draw some conclusions and suggest next steps.