White Papers are Influence Kings, But Need Personalization to Retain Crown

Updated: March 31, 2011

Internet Fuels IT Buying Cycles
According to a recent survey of 500 technology decision makers and influencers, Internet access to content is changing the way IT solutions are purchased, with buyers using on-line research to drive substantial portion of the decision making cycle on their own. Savvy buyers are using on-line content to set strategies, explore and select solutions, all before ever engaging a sales representative.

For these technology decision makers and influencers, content is an all important decision catalyst, with buyers researching opportunities, solutions, technical specifications, financial justification, success stories references and competitive comparisons. In a do-more-with-less environment, IT buyers view on-line content as essential to the buying process, a facilitator to help make better decisions more quickly.

Content that Matters Most?
When surveyed as to the most influential content in decision making, white papers remain the stand-out content of choice.

This marked the third year in a row that white papers were ranked as the most influential when compared to several other collateral types, including superior influence in driving purchase decisions over case studies / success stories, product brochures / data sheets, videos, and podcasts.

Although white papers remain influential, technology media firms such as Ziff Davis Enterprise (ZDE) and others report that white paper downloads are DOWN year over year.

Unfortunately the bulk of white paper marketing involves communicating the same information, in the same way, over and over to prospects as different as Joe's Barber Shop and Exxon Mobil. This results in information overload, with low response rates, a slower buying process and lack of competitive differentiation. The issue is that traditional white papers are often not engaging enough to break through the clutter.

So, how do marketers make whitepapers more effective, more relevant, more ONE-TO-ONE?

Interactive White Papers
One way to overcome these issues is via Interactive White Papers - by creating content that is dynamic, adaptive and personalized in real time, fundamentally changing the way white papers engage buyers.

Research from MarketingSherpa and KnowledgeStorm, shows that targeted content is more effective, when customized for:

  • Industry (82% more effective)
  • Role/job function (67%)
  • Company size (49%)
  • Geography (29%).

Designed to create more impactful and highly relevant content experiences for buyers, Interactive White Papers connect a solution's benefits to the unique needs of each customer through a question-and-answer interface that updates dynamic text modules within the white paper. Based on responses to profile questions the white paper is personalized to analyze the buyer needs and present relevant and personalized results.

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