Using White Papers for Lead Generation

Michael Stelzner wrote a solid overview article in MarketingProfs this week titled, “How White Papers Can Turbo-Boost Your Lead-Generation Campaign.” 

I’ve written a number of times that educational content is an important tool for lead generation. If you’re involved in marketing to IT or financial buyers, you should consider using white papers or e-books. 

I’m a big proponent of educational marketing, because it allows you to reach people early in their buying process. Just remember, they should be EARLY in their buying process!

Early-stage leads – those who are not ready to speak to a sales person yet – can be developed further with an effective lead nurturing program.

Do you qualify leads before sending them to your sales team?  After doing numerous lead qualification programs, we have found that only 5 to 15 percent of those who download white papers are truly sales-ready leads. So don’t pass white paper inquiries to your sales people until they’re more rigorously qualified as sales-ready leads. 

We’ve found that when you send educational content of any kind, it’s important to followup with a human touch; namely, followup phone calls. During each call your goal is to be a trusted advisor, and not simply focused on whether they are ready to buy. Ask why they downloaded the white paper. What questions were they hoping to get answered and how else could you be helpful?  Can you send them other relevant and educational content?

As noted in “Sales leads are too valuable for sales people alone,” you need to look at how you can help your sales people, who likely don’t have time to do followup on early-stage leads. If possible, you’ll need a separate function, internally or outsourced, that can manage the lead qualification and followup process for you.

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