How to get the best results from your whitepaper

Content promotion for research reports

For marketers, a well-researched whitepaper or report that offers industry insight is the holy grail. This kind of research report is exciting to build content around since the usefulness of the data is evident. But that doesn’t mean creating and executing an effective campaign is going to be easy.

Here’s your step-by-step guide to planning a content campaign that will get your research report seen far and wide.

1.  Set your goals

Go back to your goals: is your primary goal to get people to click through to the main whitepaper, or is it to position your company as an expert in this field? Is it to change the industry’s opinion on the topic, or maybe to promote your company’s brand?

Your goals will determine everything from your messaging to the targets you set for each piece of content as well as the tactics you use. Consider Twitter. If your goal is to lead a conversation in the industry, you need to craft tweets that get retweets and replies. You need to have your experts at hand to answer questions. Some of these users might never read your whitepaper at all, but they’re still contributing to your goal.

2.  Decide on the message and theme

What is the essential message your content should deliver and the tone it should take? What kind of visual theme do you want to use? You need to decide this for the entire campaign – including the main whitepaper itself – before your team starts working on any of the individual pieces.

3.  Lay out the pieces

How many different pieces of content can you create based on your whitepaper? To figure this out, take a good look at the whitepaper (or the outline, since you should be planning this much before your whitepaper is even ready). What key sections or insights can you pull out to create interesting content? What are the different audiences you want to read your whitepaper: can you create different content pieces for them, in formats they are most likely to look at? For instance, if your whitepaper analyzes the use of blockchain in different industries, do you want to create infographics with highlights for each industry? Would your target audience in each industry be likely to be interested in these infographics and tempted to then read the entire report?

Once you have an ideal list of pieces you want to create, prioritize based on your available resources – content writers, designers, and the time available – and, most importantly, which channels and formats are likely to be most effective (that is, what are your goals and where are your audiences?)

4.  Differentiate each piece

After deciding on what’s common for all the different pieces of your campaign puzzle, you need to decide what’s unique about each. While some repetition is inevitable and even necessary (most of your audience may read only one of the many pieces of content you serve them, so each piece needs to be complete in itself), each piece of content needs to be distinct enough that one reader might be tempted to read more – and even get to the motherlode, your main whitepaper.

Here is a sample of an incomplete content plan for a whitepaper on artificial intelligence in the media industry.

Content promotion plan example


5.   Don’t forget social media

This is actually part of step #2, but I’m making it a separate point because, at many organizations, social media content tends to be an afterthought, filed under promotion. Your social media plan needs to be part of your content plan, and not look like this:

After whitepaper is published, post about it on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Based on your initial analysis of where your audiences are, decide on the most important content platforms for you. Say you’ve decided to focus most of your limited social media resources on Twitter.

Think beyond a couple of promotional tweets: can you host a tweet chat? Can you create a bunch of gifs, short videos, and images, that can be shared in the weeks after the whitepaper is published? Can you retweet or amplify content by other publications on the same topic, and participate in a wider conversation instead of just sharing your own content?

Even for just the promotional posts, budget time to pick out the most interesting content from the whitepaper and share it in a way that’s friendly for the platform. Can you pull out short quotes and interesting data that will make people want to click through or respond?

6.  Time it well

If your audience is US enterprises and your whitepaper will be ready this summer, don’t launch it near the Fourth of July. Make sure the timing is right for your audience to have the highest likelihood of seeing your content.

And don’t just plan for the big launch. You should space out your campaign over a few weeks, again increasing the likelihood that your audience will see it, or engage with it more than once. If you have groundbreaking content, really mine it for all it’s worth. Plan enough social media content to keep drawing attention to it over weeks, even months. With a really big whitepaper or key content asset, you could actually promote it throughout the year, until it’s time for the next one.

7.  Be ready to recalibrate

What if your content doesn’t immediately hit the targets you’ve set? What if something unexpected happens – a competitor releases a whitepaper on the same subject, a government regulation is announced, a failed industry implementation gets attention, or your audience just doesn’t respond to the content as well as you’d hoped? Do you have a plan B?

In fact, even if things are going well, you might find ways to make your results even better. Make sure your team is standing by, to tweak your content or create additional content in response to results as they come in.

Netscribes provides high-impact thought leadership and sales enablement content for clients in the IT, financial services, and manufacturing sectors. For more information on how you can create and promote research-based content more effectively, contact

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