Are Whitepapers Still Useful (and Will They Be in the Future?)

Whitepapers are prolific in the marketing sphere, but few marketers (digital or traditional) examine the true utility of whitepapers to their consumers. They are written to serve a purpose and do so often, but even in the wake of excellent engagement data, the creators and distributors of whitepapers are left to wonder just how useful the content really is.

But web content isn’t going anywhere. Over one billion blog posts have been written in the last year (counted from the date of the publishing of this blog post minus one year), and that only counts the content that has reached RSS feeds. Just keep multiplying that; there are countless web pages, emails, ads, and whitepapers written on top of that number, and even Forbes has touted the benefits of generating whitepapers for leads and engagement.

Whitepapers are here to stay, and we believe they may be closer to the well-rounded, deeply researched, and informative content you’ll see much more of in the future.

Where Did Whitepapers Come from?

The term white paper came into use less than a century ago in England. The earliest known example, the Churchill White Paper, was written in response to the Jaffa Riots in 1921, and it served as the basis of the original use of the term white paper, a government-issued document that made a firm suggestion for policy change based on thoroughly-researched evidence.

Only in the early 1990s did marketers begin using the term more broadly to define a document that combined logic with facts and statistics to build credibility or sway potential customers in the direction of purchase. As marketing in the digital realm became more prevalent during the maturation of the internet, so too did the usefulness of the whitepaper in bringing curious readers to businesses of which they had never heard before.

So Whitepapers Are a Modern Marketing Tool

whitepaper document with generic textBusiness-to-business (B2B) marketers use whitepapers most often as a means of generating web traffic, converting potential customers into leads, and generally engaging with real and potential customers who seek valuable information.

Largely, today’s whitepaper market is part of a concerted content marketing effort tied to search engine optimization (SEO). Businesses with a B2B target can authoritatively raise awareness of their services or products while simultaneously building brand awareness, thought leadership, lead volume, and overall value.

How Can We Use Whitepapers Today?

Since they are well-researched and authoritative, whitepapers make great incentives for users to convert to potential customers or clients on your website. We call this approach gating.

By requiring that interested customers provide their contact information in exchange for free and highly valuable content, you essentially build a gate around the content. The ticket to entry is usually just a few seconds of the customer’s time, but it could turn into a huge business opportunity for those companies who are quick with the follow-up.

You can do more than gate your content, though. Whitepapers are an incredible opportunity to gain clout in your industry. By drawing logical conclusions about your products and services based on peer-reviewed information that already exists, then publishing and promoting those conclusions in a whitepaper to leaders and influencers in the industry, you can get important voices resonating about your offerings.

As more businesses and curious consumers seek your content and find value in it, they will build that value for free by sharing your content and engaging with it. Plus, whitepapers are inherently more SEO friendly since they contain larger amounts of information-rich text that pleases both users and web crawlers.

So, yes, whitepapers are still useful and will absolutely be so in the future. In fact, it’s most likely that, as voice search technology and machine learning become more prevalent, whitepapers will become the go-to standard for outputting valuable web content. Get those fingers ready for typing, marketers.

We’ve written stacks of whitepapers for our clients and would be happy to help you, too. Talk to us about our content offerings today!

How to Make SEO-Friendly Videos

Creating videos is a great way to inform and engage an audience. However, for your video campaign to be successful, it should also reach users who aren’t already familiar with your brand. To do this, it’s important your video displays in the search results for related search engine queries. Although there are a number of techniques that can be implemented, let’s dive into some of the methods that will give your videos the greatest chance at gaining visibility.

Video Optimization Best Practices

1. Take Advantage of Video Markup: The very first step in making your video SEO-friendly is to help Google properly index them. In most cases, the page where your video is embedded is not descriptive enough to allow search engines to index your video. Google requires three key pieces of information to properly index a video:

  1. A title
  2. A description
  3. A thumbnail

To pass this information to Google, you have two options: On-page markup or video sitemaps. On-page markup is hidden, descriptive text added within the source code of your web page. Schema is a markup format that has been collaboratively designed and supported by the three major search engines: Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. To learn more about on-page markup and implementing it on your site, visit Video sitemaps are XML documents which describe your videos to search engines. You can learn more about video sitemaps to get started.

2. Optimize Text Content: Similar to optimizing webpages, keyword research should be performed before creating your video to find popular terms people are searching for related to your video’s topic. You can find relevant terms by simply typing a query into the search bar of YouTube or Google.

search bar auto-population results

Optimizing the title tag and meta description for the page on your site where the video will be embedded will also help search engines understand what your video is about. It’s also important to make sure the keywords are highly relevant to your video’s topic and not just working as click bait that will disappoint the user and make them bounce off the page. If you’re hosting the video on your site, make sure there is supplemental information relevant to the video’s topic on that same page. The goal is to provide relevant, informative content that encourages users to share your video.

3. Include a Video Transcript: Speaking of content, adding a transcript to your video is another way to include text that search engines can crawl to determine what your video is about. Video transcripts also provide additional room to optimize with keywords, making your video more SEO-friendly. In addition, video transcripts make your videos more accessible to other users – especially those who may be hearing impaired or are not a native speaker.

video transcript example

4. Upload the Video to Multiple Locations: Hosting the video on your site is a great way to attract visitors to your website and convert leads. In addition, hosting the video on your own domain ensures search engines won’t direct traffic to another site. However, if you’re wanting to increase brand awareness, posting your video on multiple platforms (i.e. YouTube & Vimeo) will allow you to reach a larger audience who may not already be familiar your brand. In addition, publishing your videos on YouTube and other video hosting platforms will ensure your videos are automatically optimized for mobile viewing. This brings us to our next point…

5. Ensure Your Video is Mobile-Friendly: In late 2016, Google rolled out mobile-first indexing, meaning Google will predominantly use the mobile version of a site’s content for indexing and ranking. These days, most users are viewing videos on their smartphones. So, it’s more important than ever to ensure your site and videos are responsive to mobile-viewing. Additionally, it’s best to avoid using Adobe Flash. Although Flash has some advantages, this technology typically slows down the loading speed of your site. Slow sites typically have less user engagement, higher bounce rates, and lower organic visibility overall.

mobile device video

This is not a comprehensive list of optimization techniques, but these methods will ensure your videos are primed to gain greater visibility within search engines. Although the technical aspects of video optimization are necessary, a video campaign must not ignore the human element. Crafting a well-optimized video that is informative, entertaining, and evokes emotion will pave the path for tremendous results.

5 Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Ad Campaigns

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In the ever-changing world of Social Media Marketing, optimizing your advertising strategy is crucial. Whether your goal is lead generation, post engagement, or conversions, you want to make sure that your ads are set up for success at every level. Here are 5 ways you can optimize your campaigns at the campaign, ad set, and ad level:

  1. Choose the Right Campaign Objective

The first thing you do when creating a Facebook ad campaign is choose the objective. This selection tells Facebook what type of consumer to show your ad to. Some are more self-explanatory than others. If you plan to run video ads in hopes of getting as many views as possible, then a “video views” objective is your obvious answer. Conversely, if you plan to launch video ads in hopes of attracting new ecommerce customers to your site, then it would be best to select the “conversion” objective. Choosing the right objective will help Facebook help you reach your sales goals.

  1. Refine Target Audiences and Utilize Exclusions

Don’t waste ad spend on an audience that is not interested in what you have to offer. Targeting too broad an audience will result in a lower engagement and conversion rate. Spend some time researching competitors, interests, and behaviors of your targeting audience to reach new potential buyers. Arguably the most important part of creating a new target audience utilizing exclusions. If you are looking to reach a brand-new audience, you want to exclude fans of your page, past purchasers, and even past website visitors to ensure that you are placing your brand in front new users.

  1. Take Advantage of Remarketing Capabilities

If you could only run one campaign for the rest of your life it should be a remarketing campaign. Remarketing campaigns serve your ads to a highly qualified audience resulting in high conversion rates and low cost per conversion. Standard remarketing is a great tool to promote sales and specials to consumers who are already interested in your product. Dynamic remarketing allows you to remind visitors of the products they viewed and encourage them to complete their purchase.

  1. High-Quality Creative

Aside from targeting the wrong audiences, poor quality ad creative is the best way to sabotage your ad performance. Spend the time and effort to find and edit high quality images or videos for your ads. You only get one first impression and a bad crop or blurry image can cause potential customers to just scroll through.

  1. Incorporate Video

It is becoming more and more evident that video content is the star player. As social media and technology continue to evolve, users have grown accustom to more stimulating content and started to pay less attention to static images. If video production is too expensive or time consuming for your business, take advantage of photo slideshows to keep your audience engaged.

Optimizing Facebook ad campaigns is what we do. Don’t have time to follow all of our tips? Let us handle it instead!