The White Paper – A Cornerstone of Marketing Automation Jessica Lunk When it comes to marketing automation, content is key to attracting new prospects and nurturing them through the sales process. A white paper is one of the primary building blocks of your marketing automation strategy. Here’s how white papers fit into marketing automation, and how to build one:Attract New ProspectsMarketing automation uses online forms to capture information about the leads that are visiting your website via search engines, online ads, and social media properties. However, most people don’t just offer up their name and email address online without getting something in return. Offering a white paper on your website creates a give/get scenario. You can give your audience a great white paper that will educate them on an challenge and it’s solution. In return, they’ll give up their credentials, like name, email address, title, company size and other information. You get a new lead.Nurture ProspectsLeads generated through inbound marketing are extremely valuable. By downloading your resource, they’ve raised their hand and said, “Hey, I’ve got a problem you can help me with!”Once you’ve collected information about a contact through an online form submission for a white paper you’ve offered on your site, you have a fresh new lead. The worst thing to do would be to let that lead sit on the sidelines, waiting for them to come back to your site on their own, or putting them on your generic email blast list.Instead, marketing automation nurtures these leads with relevant content until they are ready to make a purchasing decision. With a white paper as a resource, you have a foundation of content for fueling marketing automation’s nurturing process.You’ve already put a significant amount of content in your white paper, and have it well organized. To get more milage out of it for the nurturing process you can extrapolate on the main ideas to create blog posts, infographics, guides, checklists, slideshares, and other types of content to fuel a hyper-relevant email campaign to follow the download.How to Build a WhitepaperSo what does a good white paper look like?GOAL: The goal of a white paper is to be informative, educational and solution-oriented. It’s not meant to be a hard sell. Providing long-form information in an easily digested format is a doorway to building brand awareness among your audience and building trust in your brand.In addition, while you want to educate and provide value to your audience, you don’t need to write a text-book or dissertation. Make it simple for your reader to understand the problem and the solution.BRANDING: A white paper can demonstrate your thought leadership on a topic, and is a great opportunity to showcase your brand. The tone, look, and feel should match your branding and value proposition. For instance, at Hatchbuck, we provide simple marketing automation software to small businesses. It wouldn’t make sense for us to publish a complex white paper using overly-technical jargon. We keep our resources in line with our brand, not only following our visual brand guidelines, but also echoing our value proposition of simplicity by using simple language and organization to help small business owners be more effective at marketing. ORGANIZATION: Topic: choose a pain-point your audience has that you can address.Problem: empathize with your audience by outlining the problem.Solution: add value to your audience by outlining a course of action they can take to solve their problem.Awareness: reinforce your authority on the topic and introduce your audience to your business.A white paper is a cornerstone to your marketing automation strategy. Hit on an obstacle your audience is facing, and serve up a solution to drive new leads, and nurture them with relevant follow-up content until they convert.