White papers vs. Reports
The main reason most businesses choose to produce their own content is to generate new leads and gain exposure for their brand. But in order for your content to achieve these goals, it needs to be the right content for your audience.
Formatting your content in the right way plays a key role in getting your content noticed and turning those leads into conversions. For instance, if your business’ audience is more tech savvy they might be interested in a research report, while if they’re business minded a white paper may be the way to go.
This week we’ll be diving in to the differences between white papers and reports and providing you with a few tips on how your business can put them to use.
At their core white papers are opinion pieces that offer technical insight to back up those opinions. They are usually written from your organization’s point of view and aim to establish your brand as a ‘thought leader in the industry. A good white paper avoids being overly promotional and instead focuses on educating the target audience so that they can make an informed decision.
Generally, you will come across two main types of white papers. The first focuses on high level concepts and is geared towards potential customers who are still in the early stages of the buying cycle. An example of a topic you might consider for such a white paper might be, “The Pros and Cons Digital Wallet Integration.” The more generalized topic is appealing to a business audience that has a specific problem they are looking to solve and can help them establish a case for purchasing new technology.
While the first type of white paper is more general, the second type provides a deep dive into a topic offering customers an answer to a more specific question. An example of such a piece could be “Readymade vs. Custom Shopping Carts for Ecommerce.” This style of white paper focuses in on a specific technical issues and helps to address common industry problems. In addition to informing customers, these white papers are also a great venue for your CTO to share their thoughts on your company’s technology.
Reports are much more research-based, and can be written by your organization or even third-party research firms. Reports look to share the results of a study or investigation and use those results to portray the sponsoring company in a positive light.
They are usually written for a technical audience, so you’ll want to create a report that drills down into a highly specialized topic. Ideally it will contain quantitative research that clearly backs up the conclusions made in the report. A report of this nature will often draw comparisons between products and technologies and even provide research to help organizations develop their own solutions. An example of this type of report would be our own annual State of Payments report. The report looks at the evolution on digital payments and ecommerce across the MENA region and we back it up with solid evidence.
Understanding Your Audience
When deciding on whether to use a white paper vs. a report, you need to consider the types of content your audience is interested in. For example, are they a business audience performing some preliminary research? If that’s the case then a top level white paper that explores potential problems and solutions in your industry is probably you best bet. If they are technically minded specialists that need accurate information on a specific set of topics than a report, backed by relevant industry data, is likely the best way to pique their interest.
Taking the time to experiment and understand the specific characteristics of your audience will help guide you to produce the right kind for your organization. When done right both white papers and reports can become a powerful tool to build confidence in your company and grow your overall brand.
Does your business use white papers or reports? What type of content is right for your organization? Be sure to let us know in the comments below and if you’re looking for more great tips be sure to follow PAYFORT on twitter for the latest updates.