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White Paper

What is a White Paper

What is a White Paper?

A White Paper is a non-advertising marketing document. In other words, a White Paper is a guide about a particular subject. It can either inform the user or assist them in solving a problem and fulfilling a need. The term originated in Great Britain, as it was once known as a government document that was submitted to parliament for approval. Churchill's White Paper, published in 1922, is still well known in England. White Papers are still employed in politics to help make decisions.

Generally, a White Paper is written in great detail; it might contain research findings or statistics from various sources. A White Paper must be well-designed - it is greatly welcomed when the document contains numerous graphs, diagrams, tables, and other additions. 47% of marketers actively use a White Paper within a promotion, and 79% of buyers from a business segment (such as project owners) share White Papers that interest them with fellow entrepreneurs. Likewise, 80% of users are willing to share their contact information in exchange for a White Paper that provides useful information.

A White Paper is a comprehensive document which cannot include content from ordinary articles. Normally, a White Paper is packed with information; therefore, publishing it alongside information materials is not recommended. Marketers caution that users might get scared of an extreme amount of information, save the document to their "Favourites", and never return to you. The reader must be willing to study the White Paper: you could even create a landing page and provide information about the document, as many companies already do this. Frequently, it can only be opened after submitting your contact information to gain access. Then, the White Paper will work as a lead magnet.

How is a White Paper different from an e-book?

A White Paper is a voluminous amount of text divided into reader-friendly sections. In an e-book, it will not have this sort of breakdown, since it can be both general fiction and motivational. A White Paper is always based on information and facts. In an e-book, the basis can be anything, from a narrow topic to an author's imagination. There is usually no place for research or analysing ideas and trends. The White Paper's writing style is informative. However, an e-book can be conversational because it is set up for a dialogue with the reader. An e-book is an electronic equivalent of a physical book. A White Paper format is an official and expert document not adjusted to a narrow audience segment. It is arranged to transfer data and analysis.

What is the purpose of a White Paper?

the purpose of a White Paper

Why do people design them?

  • To develop trusting relationships with a target audience. A White Paper can demonstrate that you are trustworthy, employ specialists with vast experience, and you can be responsible for the quality of your products.

  • To establish yourself as an authoritative source. Customers who believe you are an authority will be more likely to purchase your product. More than half of buyers read a White Paper before buying anything expensive - it is worth paying particular attention to this document!

  • To constantly increase leads. Leads in marketing are customers who are eager to purchase your product because it fulfils some of their needs. You can transform your White Paper into a lead magnet to generate leads. Which will be a free, useful information product offered to customers in exchange for their personal data. More than 75% of potential buyers are ready to leave their contact information if they can access a White Paper. A White Paper is more popular than analysis reports, e-books, info graphs and podcasts!

Who uses a White Paper?

Who is interested in a White Paper, and how can it be used in different situations?

A White Paper is often employed by businesses that sell their products to other companies. It is fairly straightforward: business people want to instantly see numbers and facts to make decisions based on a sizeable amount of information. White Papers are ideal for startups, IT companies, agencies, healthcare companies, and even government agencies working with private contractors. A White Paper for all these companies solves the following problems:

  1. Helps to attract partners and investors.

  2. Enables you to build a strong reputation amongst potential customers.

  3. Enhances the company's brand awareness.

  4. Create an interest in new products and services.

  5. Provides an opportunity to receive a grant to implement projects.

Types of White Papers

What types of White Paper do modern companies use now?

  • A description of the background illustrating the benefits of a product or service. It may contain a detailed description of use or recommendations for using it. It can also include customer reviews and other promotional materials. However, you must ensure that the benefits surpass all advertising promises.

  • A review discussing the benefits of a product or service. It is useful for potential customers: you can present yourself in a better light and provide as much information as possible about the product; however, it's vital not to overdo it so that the White Paper is not turned into another advertisement your potential customers are tired of seeing on every corner.

  • The problem and solution. This type of paper discusses the issues the product can solve and provides several solutions. Not all of them have to include your product - the definition of this format assumes that you are sharing multiple options for solving a problem and not exclusively promoting your product.

  • A report, which points out information: statistics, the state of the industry, and details that may be potentially important to the consumer. In this instance, companies often include the reports themselves, financial tables, and details from market participants. This kind of White Paper can even be used in scientific papers!

  • The research result discussing statistics, outlining them, and explaining why the researchers reached their conclusion. These White Papers are typically mentioned in bachelor's and master's essays. Especially if you can obtain them for your contacts, and they are distributed to everyone.

How to write a White Paper?

How do you write a White Paper

Let's say you want to utilise a White Paper in your marketing strategy. How do you create a White Paper? What do you write in the document, and how do you plan technical specifications? Let's figure it out now.

Writing out technical specifications for a White Paper

  1. Identify why you need a White Paper. To generate leads? To increase sales? To demonstrate that your company is an expert in the market or to try out a marketer's new theory? Creating a high-quality document will be impossible without understanding why you require a White Paper.

  2. Determine a topic. How does your company plan to achieve expertise in its field? What topics can your employees address? What subjects do you have enough information on to write an entire White Paper? List topics, write subtopics within them, and choose options which might interest your target audience. To experiment with topics, use free services to reveal the popularity of search queries. If you identify topics not well-covered by your competitors, consider that you have struck gold!

  3. Identify your future readers. They could be the target audience or someone from a new segment you have not yet reached. You can't skip this stage: writing a White Paper for a reader you don't know and whose needs you don't understand will not yield positive results. Examine the reader's interest in your chosen topic. When do you invite them to read the White Paper, and do you know whether they can understand the words you would like to use within the document? The more you know about the potential reader, the better White Paper you will produce.

  4. Think about your promotion channels. Is this an advertising campaign with targeted advertising on websites? Or short advertising campaigns on social networks? Is it possible to guide users to your landing page? Or hope for an organic style of promotion by posting content relevant to the document's topic on a website with your White Paper?

  5. Identify the structure of the document. What subjects will be included? In what order? What questions will be discussed within each topic? Why choose them? What will the answers to these questions provide? It is essential to understand the structure thoroughly - this way, you can keep track of the information set for the White Paper and ensure that you stay focused.

  6. Consider where you will source your information. To create a high-quality White Paper, any business must gather the relevant information. Interviewing company employees is not always enough: sometimes you need to search for information, and sometimes you need to look for experts who can comment on it. Suppose your document does not contain exclusive, unique information you have gathered. In that case, it is unlikely to interest anyone representing your target audience. Don't forget about links to sources. Many leave this enormously important issue for later and then forget.

  7. Create a visual image. You can achieve this by utilising a designer - you must understand where (roughly) the information sections will be found inside the document to present them as effectively as possible and highlight what you consider the most vital. Consider which graphic elements you want to see in the White Paper and create technical specifications for your designer. Yes, the White Paper must be visually designed; this will take resources. However, without having a stunning design, the document is unlikely to be read beyond the first ten pages. The design must be readable, and the White Paper should at least look attractive and, at most, exciting.

Where do you obtain information for a White Paper?

Firstly, from your own research. Survey site visitors, conduct in-depth interviews with loyal customers, and ask employees for their opinions. This is not as difficult as it appears; however, it will help you develop a marketing promotional plan. If you have the time and resources, form a focus group. A focus group is a group of users who possess certain features. Who seem to represent a broader group - for instance, those who own businesses and are expanding their operations but wish to gain more marketing knowledge. Another possibility would be to utilise your own examples and internal documentation: project diagrams, test results, instructions, and their modifications. The data is unique, so this White Paper will receive especially close attention from market representatives. And, of course, you will immediately demonstrate that you are an expert in a certain field.

Secondly, from trustworthy sources. You can search for data on Nielsen, Statista, Forrester, The Global Web Index, Pew Research Centre, Gartner, eMarketer, and Marketing Charts. Utilise trade magazines, search for information, and pretend you are an investigative journalist. Check the information; don't randomly put it in your White Paper. Possibly, even a reliable source could accidentally republish an article that was not verified and then delete it. Then, you will need to change the material in the White Paper or even make excuses for not checking it. Ensure you cite sources; don't write about discovering the information yourself. The list of sources is often placed at the very end of the White Paper, not on each page, as in a scientific paper.

A White Paper Template

Now you can finally start writing your White Paper! We have created a concise White Paper template. Here you will find the sections that should be included in your document:

  • Heading

The heading should be eye-catching and vivid, and summarise the entire document. Creating multiple heading options and selecting the most suitable one is recommended.

  • Introduction

A section that will describe your White Paper's purpose, its significance, the issues it will address, the rationale behind its creation, and its primary objective.

  • Review

Here, you can define the terms from the White Paper, provide an overview of the industry's current state of affairs, and briefly outline the issue's history.

  • Content

In this section, you will put the content of your White Paper. Remember how we structured the document? All of it will be located in the content. The remaining sections serve to formalise the content.

  • Additional materials

This means that attaching additional material to the White Paper is advisable. For example, you can recommend books, free courses, or educational videos about the subject.

  • Conclusion

Summarise the key takeaways from the content and include a call to action, such as purchasing a product or trying a service.

  • Sources

Indicate all sources that were utilised while you were creating the White Paper. Please do not skip this step. It is important even from a legal point of view.

White Paper examples

White Paper examples

An interesting example of a White Paper is the White Paper from the Google Cloud Platform. Distributed online, it is navigated by sections. You can download the document in PDF format. Another example is the White Paper from Hyperledger. The blockchain company describes the terms and metrics from its industry. Lots of charts and tables are found here, which is exemplary work! However, in the White Paper from Cisco, you will discover a lot of infographics and intriguing design solutions. Zendesk went even further by adding animation, graphics, and interactive elements to its White Paper.


Creating a White Paper as a marketing document presenting a product, analysis, or even an industry is not simple. However, it is certainly worth the effort, and almost anyone can do it. Before publishing a White Paper, it is crucial to scrutinise the sources cited within it, evaluate the document's structure, and confirm that it is easy to read. Please note that the White Paper does not focus on sales but introduces the target audience to you. It contains a large amount of data that does not include abstract information or tell a story. Rather, it transparently examines a certain subject piece by piece. Try to create a White Paper - we are confident that you will be able to understand the subject and produce a genuinely valuable document!