Many marketers think white papers and e-books are the same. While there are similarities in these tools, there are major differences too. In some projects, you could use both and get great results. Other projects may only require one of these options. So, what are e-books and white papers, and how are they unique?

What Is A White Paper?

A white paper is a long-form piece of written content that provides information about a specific topic. You can think of white papers as content that tries to teach something such as a how-to guide or a written overview of a specific methodology.

Usually, you need to provide your contact information like an email to get access to a white paper. So, it must be something with enough value to deserve your contact details.

White papers themselves are not promotional material but can help with branding and marketing goals. When done right, offering white papers with an opt-in form can be a great lead generation strategy to grow your mailing list. It is important to remember that the main purpose of white papers is to inform other people about complex issues. If a white paper is too promotional, it can turn off potential leads and customers.

What Is An E-Book?

An e-book is simply a digital book. It does not have to analyze complex issues, even if some e-books teach something to their readers. Usually e-books are more casual and engaging than white papers. If your website has a blog, an e-book for your business could include the same conversational tone. This is quite different from a white paper’s informative tone.

Typically an e-book takes less time and preparation to be created. An e-book can take a few weeks, while white papers take a few months. E-books do not have to be used as lead generation tools, but they are frequently used in this way.

E-Books vs. White Papers

Now that the differences between e-books and white papers are clarified, which option is the best for your marketing? We’ve made it easy by listing the advantages of each marketing resource below.

When You Should Write an E-Book

1. You’re in a Rush

When you have limited time a need a marketing resource fast, an e-book is a better option. It takes from a few days to a few weeks, as mentioned above, and includes some important subjects of a specific topic.

2. You Need Something Multimedia Friendly

E-books are great for including links, visuals, images, and calls to action. You can use both resources and show examples to your readers. So, you can actually add different types of content and promote your business. It is not easy to add multimedia on white papers because they are simple doc files or PDF files.

3. You Need Something Easy To Make and Share

You can easily create an e-book with your CMS, so you don’t have to spend time on this process. Creating an e-book is so simple that it saves you time compared to white papers. E-books allow you to put more time and effort into the writing process.

Then, you can share your e-book in various places like your blog posts, the sidebar of your website, and social media. But you need a landing page, a call to action, and a promotional post for each e-book you create. If you want to share it to even more people for free, you can add it on your email signature and free platforms that allow you to upload your e-book.

4. You Need an Engaging Marketing Tool

If your goal is to promote your business and get leads, an e-book is a better option than a white paper. Simply, e-books are more engaging and easier to read. Your target audience will understand your point and will want to learn more.

A white paper could confuse people that are not familiar with a specific topic or just search for generic information. The e-book can also include offers and recommendations.

When You Should Write A White Paper

1. You Need to Prove Yourself as a Thought Leader

White papers can work well for thought leaders that want to position themselves as experts in their industry. They can go deeper into specific topics and include more details. For example, a thought leader can create a white paper about a case study or an experiment.

2. You Need to Provide Deep Explanations

While e-books are created fast and do not include a lot of details, white papers go really deep on their topics. When you create a white paper, your target audience expects to include all the required details.

In many cases, white papers include long-form content from interviews or studies. But this long-form content is ideal for your target audience that needs to learn more about the topic.

3. You Need a Simple, Responsive Document

When most people think of white papers, they think of a document that offers high functional value with little frills. Keep in mind, this does not mean a white paper has to literally be a black-and-white doc. You can include graphic design, colors, and graphs that will hold the reader’s attention and help the reader to understand key points.

Another important component of modern white papers is responsiveness. These days many people use their smartphones to get information online, so it is important to make it responsive for different screen sizes.

Conclusion

E-books are great when you want to engage the audience and offer them interesting content on your topic. They are easy-to-read most of the time and include different resources that help your target audience. For example, you can include links that send traffic to your website pages or a landing page.

White papers are the best option when you are willing to put a significant amount of time into creating the best resource on a specific topic. You can also motivate your target audience to give their email addresses in exchange for a white paper. But you need to make sure that you deliver the expected value.

iRIS Marketing can support your business in creating engaging, professionally designed white papers and e-books. Contact us today.

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