Your digital marketing strategy shouldn’t exclusively be about advertising. While employing short-term tactics like advertising, you should also think long-term.
When your digital marketing strategy includes assets like in-depth studies you have conducted, you demonstrate your company’s expertise and competitive advantage. Here is what you should know about using long-form content in your digital marketing strategy.
Longer-form content almost always falls under the umbrella of inbound marketing. Inbound marketing targets customers through non-advertising content you produce.
Rather than paying to place an ad on social media, for example, you use inbound marketing on your website to attract leads and customers. As you might surmise, inbound marketing works best when your website’s SEO is on point.
The idea behind inbound marketing is that someone will find your blog post, video, or other content, realize that your company has a solution to their challenge, and choose to learn more. They may download gated content (where someone wanting access would have to enter their email address in order to access the content), or even contact your company. It is based on the premise that storytelling is superior to the traditional sales pitch.
Types of Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing has been around for hundreds of years if you think about it. Three centuries ago, Benjamin Franklin published Poor Richard’s Almanac, which was filled with entertaining content while advertising Franklin’s Philadelphia printing business. And he got good business results from it!
Today, blog posts are probably the most common type of inbound marketing. Maintaining a blog with fresh, original, engaging content demonstrates that you know what you’re talking about and that your business is in it for the long haul.
Other types of inbound marketing content include infographics, how-to videos, email newsletters, podcasts, and even books. White papers and ebooks, however, are two important forms of inbound marketing that address potential customers at critical stages of their buying decision.
Ebooks in Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Ebooks are less formal than white papers. They are also written with a more generalized audience in mind. Examples of good ebook structures include how-to guides or industry insight roundups.
Though ebooks may be several thousand words long, they are presented in an engaging and easily digestible form. They’re skimmable, so readers can find sections that pique their interest easily. Sometimes ebooks are released as direct tie-ins to new products or upgrades.
An ebook makes a great reference for the person who is new to your products and services or who has only recently recognized a need for them. Think of a good ebook as a tasty appetizer for your company’s products and services.
White Papers in Your Digital Marketing Strategy
White papers are a bit more formal and academic. Typically, they follow a problem → methodology → discussion → resolution format, though that is not a hard and fast rule.
Some companies release research projects or case studies in white paper form. They write white papers for readers who are closer to making a purchase decision and who want hard facts and validation to back up their choice.
White papers can be half a dozen pages long, or they can be more than 50 pages long. It all depends on your industry, your audience, and the resources you have at your disposal.
While white papers should be logical and well-organized, they’re generally not as skimmable as ebooks. They should be authoritative, in-depth, and persuasive. Examples of white papers are reference guides, original research papers, and case studies.
Frequently, businesses release white papers as gated content. But sometimes they are offered as open resources so that people close to making a purchase decision can get to them easily.
If you think of ebooks as appetizers to entice people to find out more about your company’s offerings, think of white papers as the main course. White papers are designed to persuade buyers and reassure them that they are making a smart decision.
Table: Ebooks vs. White Papers Summary
The following table summarizes ebooks, white papers, and their differences.
|Goal||Convince reader you have outstanding products and services||Convince reader that your products and services are the correct choice for them|
|Audience||People at the “awareness” stage of buying||People at the “decision” stage of buying|
|Tone||Relatively informal, more entertaining||More formal and academic|
|Ease of understanding||Skimmable, easily digestible||Requires more in-depth attention|
|Access||Almost always gated||Usually, but not always gated|
Understand where the target of your digital marketing strategy goal resides, and you can choose whether an ebook or a white paper is the better type of content.
Expertise and Reputation
Inbound marketing as part of your content marketing strategy isn’t designed to get fast results, the way a Google or social media advertisement announcing a sale is. Long-form content as part of your content marketing strategy is more of a long-term investment in your customers.
While it may take longer to pay off financially in terms of increased sales, inbound digital marketing improves your business reputation as well. By showing potential customers that you have both the products/services and expertise that they need to solve a problem, you position your business as an authoritative, reputable entity.
Don’t let your entire digital marketing strategy rest on short-term tactics like digital ads. By including longer-term marketing assets like white papers and ebooks, you assure all customers that your products and services rest on a foundation of knowledge, expertise, and industry authority.
The Effort Is Worthwhile
Writing an ebook or a white paper is an investment of time and effort. We understand that not every small business has the time or resources to create and build a library of valuable long-form content.
If your business would benefit from adding long-form content to your digital marketing strategy, why not set up a call with our team? We understand digital marketing inside and out and create a custom digital marketing strategy for each and every client.
Your business does great things. Let us help you reach more people and generate the growth that your business deserves.