Whitepaper vs eBook: Which is better for marketing strategy?


Whitepaper vs eBook: Which is better for marketing strategy?

As a marketing agency, many of our clients are searching for new and effective forms of content that will enhance brand awareness, drive traffic to their site, and ultimately lead to a buying decision. 

There are so many inbound marketing content types to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which is the best route for your demand gen strategy. 

Blog articles, social media blurbs, webinars, case studies, landing pages, eBooks, whitepapers- which should you use? Which is better? 

One frequent question we’re asked around which type of content a client should develop is, “What’s the difference between an eBook and a white paper,” and “Do you think ebooks are better than whitepapers?” 

While both are very important pieces for any content marketing strategy, they serve very distinct purposes. Determining which is best for you really depends on your goals and what information you’re trying to share. 

Let’s take a closer look at both of these content types. 

What is a White Paper?

White papers are pieces of content centered around some type of research project and written by industry experts. 

The research can be from a survey the client conducts that asks a large number of people to answer a host of questions about a specific topic and then reporting on the findings.  

Example #1:  Survey Findings

For example, we have a client who ran a survey to get insights about how industry thought leaders, in this case, Chief Marketing Officers, Heads of Marketing, and Heads of Demand Generation manage marketing pipeline challenges. 

The findings from their survey will be really helpful for their target audience as they try to figure out how to plan to hit their pipeline goals in the coming months and quarters because many Marketers don’t talk to other Marketers about pipeline challenges. By having this research available, our client is doing the heavy lifting for them.

A white paper can also be a report of interesting data that is collected from the experiences of a client’s customer base. 

For many of our software clients, this can be fairly interesting to share because either the software data, engagement of the software, or the behavior of the software, is valuable to our clients’ target market. 

Example #2:  Industry Expertise

A good example of this is a client of ours in the security space uses their software tool to understand how companies are spending time on specific tasks related to compliance and security. 

This information is interesting to their target market because companies complete certain tasks in very different ways. Some have a long and complex workflow, while others are fairly efficient at completing the work. The complexity of the work and the amount of time that it takes to complete directly correlates with how big the company and security team and how long they’ve been in business.

For the companies that are efficient at completing the work, there are some best practices that are easy to bubble up and share with the broader market when joined with data on the usage of their tool.

In either use case, the white paper is an important lead generation tool in content marketing strategy and gives credibility that drives the sales funnel because it is fact and data-based. 

It’s up to the marketer to get as many of their target audience to review the white paper in hopes that they will perceive that company as a subject matter expert and ultimately want to do business with them.

What is an eBook?

In the case of an eBook, it’s our view that an eBook is typically created by content marketers when there is very specific thought leadership or opinion that’s worth sharing.

eBooks can contain infographics, a table of contents, and read much like a physical book. That thought leadership can be coming just from a subject matter expert or a group of subject matter experts at that specific company. 

Other eBooks are generated from getting an assortment of opinions from subject matter experts at multiple companies or associations. 

In any case, the eBook is more opinion-based than a whitepaper and, in some instances, is just as effective if not more effective than a white paper because of the people or perspectives that are included in the eBook.  

The tone in the messaging of an eBook can also be a little less formal than a white paper and tends to have better readability.

Popular eBook topics are typically around some type of approach that walks the reader through a series of steps, a baseline, or an expert understanding of how something is built or done. 

So Which Is Best For Me? A White Paper or an eBook?

When thinking about whether your content team should write an eBook or white paper, make sure to consider where in the customer journey you’re writing the content for. 

While both can be useful marketing tools at any stage of the digital marketing funnel, the ideas that you come up with for both an eBook and a white paper will vary based off of what your topic is, who your target audience is, and the message that you’re trying to convey overall. It will also be important to report on the appropriate marketing metrics so that you can make sure that creating your white paper or eBook is worth the effort.

Also be mindful of your budget because both a whitepaper and an eBook can become rather expensive to create and promote. If you don’t already have this baked into your marketing budget, then speak with your team about what you can swap out.

Brainstorming sessions are extremely effective for coming up with fantastic eBook and white paper ideas that support the buyer’s journey and I strongly recommend that you take advantage of these sessions so that the best ideas can rise to the top. 

If you need help coming up with ideas for an eBook or white paper or have an idea and need some help executing, please reach out to us.


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