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10 Creative Whitepaper Ideas To Score Big With Your B2B Audience

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10 Creative Whitepaper Ideas To Score Big With Your B2B Audience

Whitepapers are among the top lead generation tools of B2B marketers, but they must present unique information to warrant an exchange of information.

After all, the lead is giving up their name, contact, and demographic data for a free asset.

This is enough of a deterrent for the lead to bounce if the landing page doesn’t convey enough value.

Wikipedia defines B2B whitepapers as:

“…papers (that) use selected facts and logical arguments to build a case favorable to the company sponsoring the document.”

To me, this is a fair definition since whitepapers not only inform an audience but also present their brand favorably.

They are editorial content that informs opinions, not unlike a journalistic op-ed or even a sponsored article.

The key differential of a whitepaper is that it must convey authority with the depth of its research – and it must be valuable enough to convert that lead.

In this article, you’ll find 10 creative whitepaper concepts that will stand out in social media feeds, email newsletters, and programmatic advertising so you can score big with your B2B audience.

1. A Guide Written By A C-Suite Member

With this idea, you combine thought leadership with the level of detail required in a whitepaper to shape opinions in your niche.

Rather than a faceless document, it is authored by a C-suite member, such as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

These often cover a pressing issue in your industry.

For busy C-suites, ghostwriting is often an option that is quite effective so long as it captures the right tone and ideas.

What makes these whitepapers stand out is their personal voice, which sparks a connection and conveys trust.

Include the author’s contact information in the footer so readers can get in touch easily with their thoughts or feedback.

2. Whitepaper With Results From A Survey

Polling your audience is a great way to cater to their interests.

After all, people in your industry want to know what other decision-makers in their niche are thinking, so they often crave credible data from surveys.

You can conduct a survey on your own (or hire a survey provider) to glean insights from your audience.

This can be buyer behavior, industry outlook, or even top challenges and ideas on how to address them.

From this data, create a whitepaper that showcases the results but also provides commentary by experts on these ideas and what they mean for your industry.

This type of content positions your brand as an authority, which in turn will serve as a lead magnet for prospects that trust in the quality you bring to the table.

3. Predictions For The Next Quarter (Or Fiscal Year)

Whenever a new quarter looms, marketing and sales teams are under pressure to strategize how they will improve (or recover) their pipeline productivity.

Thus, a whitepaper with predictions provides valuable guidance for these professionals to mould their strategies.

These predictions can be backed up with data on trends, hashtags, and even interviews with decision makers across the industry as to what they can expect for the months ahead.

4. Insights From Academic Research

Worldwide, academics are publishing valuable research for your audience that you can leverage to create groundbreaking, credible content.

All it takes is for you to check scientific paper websites such as JSTOR and Elsevier with keywords that pertain to your niche.

And if you want to get local, contact your regional university for research to fuel your whitepaper ideas.

Just don’t forget to credit the authors. If they are willing, they can be featured in a video or webinar later that, in turn, will boost the value and credibility of your insights.

5. “Antihero” Whitepapers

If there’s any rule held as a gold standard in your niche, yet you believe it has room for improvement (or is plain wrong), then you have a perfect opportunity to publish an “antihero” whitepaper.

An antihero challenges conventions – and in this case, it is a whitepaper with shocking ideas that will invite readers to ponder new possibilities.

However, be careful, as these daring pieces of content can flop if you challenge well-regarded concepts wrongfully.

Make sure to support your arguments with enough proof as to why certain rules should be broken, and if successful, you will open a path for new practices in your industry (or at least a valuable discussion).

Bonus points if your antihero whitepaper turns into viral content that promotes your personal brand or that of your business.

6.   Forgotten Lessons

Historical figures are often forgotten as their legacy is taken for granted or upstaged by recent, more trendy insights.

If you have any books of classic thinkers that serve as perfect analogies for how your company is shaped today, you can present their thoughts as “forgotten lessons” for your readers in a form of thought leadership.

For example, when it comes to technology, books by pioneers such as Tim Berners-Lee (an English computer scientist best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web) provide insights on how we can use the internet today or at the very least, are an interesting read.

7.   Professional Reference Guide

A reference guide is a comprehensive go-to resource for a professional to find what they need quickly for their job.

It must cover the basics and contain a summarized overview of the advanced tasks of a role with links to further reading.

Reference guides commonly include an introduction for beginners, descriptions of the main tasks the job entails, a brief FAQ, and resource recommendations for professional development (books, courses, certifications).

This type of whitepaper is hard to pull off, yet it has the potential to be an invaluable asset for your audience, especially those who are just starting their careers.

For example, the ‘Mechanical Engineer’s Pocket Book‘ is a comprehensive guide for beginner and senior engineers to consult symbols, formulas, reference charts, and components.

The book has been revised three times since its publication in 1990 to keep up with the latest technology.

However, its structure has remained the same, which proves how this type of content can be easily refreshed to continue to be relevant.

8. Case Study Roundup

If you have correlated case studies, why not pack them together into a single whitepaper?

‘5 Case Studies of [Product] for Healthcare SMBs’ is a hypothetical example in which you would provide a summary of each case study with an overview of the general results.

This allows your case studies to pack more punch and is an easy whitepaper to produce if you already have the original content available.

9. Lessons from Past Trends

This whitepaper idea is also inspired by lessons from the previous year.

However, it is based on insights from trends rather than the ideas of your industry’s trailblazers.

While it can be argued that trends are unpredictable, a common element these whitepapers share is a fresh, unexpected perspective for an audience.

In other words, a trend cuts through the noise.

So, if you compile the past trends of your niche, you’ll understand why they were highly regarded and distinguished by your audience.

You can publish what you learned in a whitepaper such as ‘7 Lessons from the Biggest Hospitality Trends of 2020,’ for example.

10. Co-marketing Whitepapers

With co-marketing, you partner with another company to launch an asset and share the generated leads.

Partnering with an authoritative brand can not only elevate the perceived value of your services but also lessen your team’s workload.

If, for example, you wish to launch a whitepaper on educational technology, why not co-market with a brand that has different offerings (but isn’t a competitor)?

With co-marketing, you can double outreach, too, publishing the asset on more proprietary channels and leveraging separate paid media budgets.

Thus, it’s a win-win, which allows marketing teams to select the most qualified leads from the campaign for their company.

Final Considerations

Often, it’s simply not enough to choose the right whitepaper idea.

To ensure it’s also an engaging lead generation tool, here are four additional considerations:

Be Concise, But Don’t Skimp On Content

Your audience will read your whitepaper precisely for its in-depth knowledge, but that doesn’t mean mulling over unnecessary information.

It also doesn’t mean repurposing an article into a multi-page PDF just so it can generate leads.

Whitepapers aren’t supposed to be dense like scientific resources, but rather long-form reports on an interesting topic.

They may be a problem-solving tool (such as a reference guide) or can simply showcase results.

What you need to keep in mind when creating a whitepaper is readability, which can be improved by featuring summaries, indexes, sub-sections, and listicles.

Include only as much information as the reader needs to understand the topic.

Keep In Touch With Your Organization’s Leadership Team

Whether you are a freelancer or an in-house content writer, talking with your leaders (or clients) is a must to craft thought leadership content that engages your audience.

It also helps to spark creativity, which is often necessary to produce the groundbreaking content needed for a noteworthy discussion.

This way, leaders can better anticipate needs in the market, rather than create content based solely on what worked in the past according to CRM and SEO metrics.

Don’t Copy What’s Already Out There

If you read a whitepaper from a competitor and think, “Wow, we could make this,” then don’t!

Many companies fall into the trap of copying other brands, polluting the infosphere with duplicate content.

Instead, analyze what makes that content so good and which features apply to your brand.

Then, you’ll be ready to create better-informed and new whitepapers that can outperform your competitor’s success.

Challenge Conventions

Like the antihero whitepaper idea from this list, presenting an unexpected view can make your whitepaper stand out.

And maintaining this perspective prevents you from publishing run-of-the-mill content as you’ll creatively question the why behind your industry’s status quo.

Keep in mind that rebellion works best contained, so don’t foster this side for no reason in your work.

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Gen Z Ditches Google, Turns To Reddit For Product Searches

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In this photo illustration, the Reddit logo is displayed on a smartphone screen.

A new report from Reddit, in collaboration with GWI and AmbassCo, sheds light on the evolving search behaviors of Generation Z consumers.

The study surveyed over 3,000 internet users across the UK, US, and Germany, highlighting significant changes in how young people discover and research products online.

Here’s an overview of key findings and the implications for marketers.

Decline In Traditional Search

The study found that Gen Z uses search engines to find new brands and products less often.

That’s because they shop online differently. They’re less interested in looking for expert reviews or spending much time searching for products.

There are also frustrations with mobile-friendliness and complex interfaces on traditional search platforms.

Because of this, traditional SEO strategies might not work well for reaching younger customers.

Takeaway

Companies trying to reach Gen Z might need to try new methods instead of just focusing on being visible on Google and other search engines.

Rise Of Social Media Discovery

Screenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Gen Z is increasingly using social media to find new brands and products.

The study shows that Gen Z has used social media for product discovery 36% more frequently since 2018.

This change is affecting how young people shop online. Instead of searching for products, they expect brands to appear in their social media feeds.

1719123963 547 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Because of this, companies trying to reach young customers need to pay more attention to how they present themselves on social media.

Takeaway

To succeed at marketing to Gen Z, businesses will likely need to focus on two main things:

  1. Ensure that your content appears more often in social media feeds.
  2. Create posts people want to share and interact with.

Trust Issues With Influencer Marketing

Even though more people are finding products through social media, the report shows that Gen Z is less likely to trust what social media influencers recommend.

These young shoppers often don’t believe in posts that influencers are paid to make or products they promote.

Instead, they prefer to get information from sources that feel more real and are driven by regular people in online communities.

Takeaway

Because of this lack of trust, companies must focus on being genuine and building trust when they try to get their websites to appear in search results or create ads.

Some good ways to connect with these young consumers might be to use content created by regular users, encourage honest product reviews, and create authentic conversations within online communities.

Challenges With Current Search Experiences

The research shows that many people are unhappy with how search engines work right now.

More than 60% of those surveyed want search results to be more trustworthy. Almost half of users don’t like looking through many search result pages.

Gen Z is particularly bothered by inaccurate information and unreliable reviews.

1719123963 785 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Takeaway

Given the frustration with search quality, marketers should prioritize creating accurate, trustworthy content.

This can help build brand credibility, leading to more direct visits.

Reddit: A Trusted Alternative

The report suggests that Gen Z trusts Reddit when looking up products—it’s their third most trusted source, after friends and family and review websites.

1719123963 403 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Young users like Reddit because it’s community-based and provides specific answers to users’ questions, making it feel more real.

It’s worth noting that this report comes from Reddit itself, which probably influenced why it’s suggesting its own platform.

Takeaway

Companies should focus more on being part of smaller, specific online groups frequented by Gen Z.

That could include Reddit or any other forum.

Why SEJ Cares

As young people change how they look for information online, this study gives businesses important clues about connecting with future customers.

Here’s what to remember:

  • Traditional search engine use is declining among Gen Z.
  • Social media is increasingly vital for product discovery.
  • There’s growing skepticism towards influencer marketing.
  • Current search experiences often fail to meet user expectations.
  • Community-based platforms like Reddit are gaining trust.

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Google Clarifies Organization Merchant Returns Structured Data

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Google updates organization structured data for merchant returns

Google quietly updated their organization structured data documentation in order to clarify two points about merchant returns in response to feedback about an ambiguity in the previous version.

Organization Structured Data and Merchant Returns

Google recently expanded their Organization structured data so that it could now accommodate a merchant return policy. The change added support for adding a sitewide merchant return policy.

The original reason for adding this support:

“Adding support for Organization-level return policies

What: Added documentation on how to specify a general return policy for an Organization as a whole.

Why: This makes it easier to define and maintain general return policies for an entire site.”

However that change left unanswered about what will happen if a site has a sitewide return policy but also has a different policy for individual products.

The clarification applies for the specific scenario of when a site uses both a sitewide return policy in their structured data and another one for specific products.

What Takes Precedence?

What happens if a merchant uses both a sitewide and product return structured data? Google’s new documentation states that Google will ignore the sitewide product return policy in favor of a more granular product-level policy in the structured data.

The clarification states:

“If you choose to provide both organization-level and product-level return policy markup, Google defaults to the product-level return policy markup.”

Change Reflected Elsewhere

Google also updated the documentation to reflect the scenario of the use of two levels of merchant return policies in another section that discusses whether structured data or merchant feed data takes precedence. There is no change to the policy, merchant center data still takes precedence.

This is the old documentation:

“If you choose to use both markup and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

This is the same section but updated with additional wording:

“If you choose to use both markup (whether at the organization-level or product-level, or both) and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

Read the newly updated Organization structured data documentation:

Organization (Organization) structured data – MerchantReturnPolicy

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What Is It & How To Write It

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What Is It & How To Write It

In this guide, you will learn about alternative text (known as alt text): what it is, why it is important for on-page SEO, how to use it correctly, and more.

It’s often overlooked, but every image on your website should have alt text. More information is better, and translating visual information into text is important for search engine bots attempting to understand your website and users with screen readers.

Alt text is one more source of information that relates ideas and content together on your website.

This practical and to-the-point guide contains tips and advice you can immediately use to improve your website’s image SEO and accessibility.

What Is Alt Text?

Alternative text (or alt text) – also known as the alt attribute or the alt tag (which is not technically correct because it is not a tag) – is simply a piece of text that describes the image in the HTML code.

What Are The Uses Of Alt Text?

The original function of alt text was simply to describe an image that could not be loaded.

Many years ago, when the internet was much slower, alt text would help you know the content of an image that was too heavy to be loaded in your browser.

Today, images rarely fail to load – but if they do, then it is the alt text you will see in place of an image.

Screenshot from Search Engine Journal, May 2024

Alt text also helps search engine bots understand the image’s content and context.

More importantly, alt text is critical for accessibility and for people using screen readers:

  • Alt text helps people with disabilities (for example, using screen readers) learn about the image’s content.

Of course, like every element of SEO, it is often misused or, in some cases, even abused.

Let’s now take a closer look at why alt text is important.

Why Alt Text Is Important

The web and websites are a very visual experience. It is hard to find a website without images or graphic elements.

That’s why alt text is very important.

Alt text helps translate the image’s content into words, thus making the image accessible to a wider audience, including people with disabilities and search engine bots that are not clever enough yet to fully understand every image, its context, and its meaning.

Why Alt Text Is Important For SEO

Alt text is an important element of on-page SEO optimization.

Proper alt text optimization makes your website stand a better chance of ranking in Google image searches.

Yes, alt text is a ranking factor for Google image search.

Depending on your website’s niche and specificity, Google image search traffic may play a huge role in your website’s overall success.

For example, in the case of ecommerce websites, users very often start their search for products with a Google image search instead of typing the product name into the standard Google search.

Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner]Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner], May 2024

Google and other search engines may display fewer product images (or not display them at all) if you fail to take care of their alt text optimization.

Without proper image optimization, you may lose a lot of potential traffic and customers.

Why Alt Text Is Important For Accessibility

Visibility in Google image search is very important, but there is an even more important consideration: Accessibility.

Fortunately, in recent years, more focus has been placed on accessibility (i.e., making the web accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities and/or using screen readers).

Suppose the alt text of your images actually describes their content instead of, for example, stuffing keywords. In that case, you are helping people who cannot see this image better understand it and the content of the entire web page.

Let’s say one of your web pages is an SEO audit guide that contains screenshots from various crawling tools.

Would it not be better to describe the content of each screenshot instead of placing the same alt text of “SEO audit” into every image?

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Alt Text Examples

Finding many good and bad examples of alt text is not difficult. Let me show you a few, sticking to the above example with an SEO audit guide.

Good Alt Text Examples

So, our example SEO guide contains screenshots from tools such as Google Search Console and Screaming Frog.

Some good examples of alt text may include:

”The
”Google
”List
”Screaming

Tip: It is also a good idea to take care of the name of your file. Using descriptive file names is not a ranking factor, but I recommend this as a good SEO practice.

Bad And/Or Spammy Alt Text Examples

I’ve also seen many examples of bad alt text use, including keyword stuffing or spamming.

Here is how you can turn the above good examples into bad examples:

”google search console coverage report
”google
”seo
”seo

As you can see, the above examples do not provide any information on what these images actually show.

You can also find examples and even more image SEO tips on Google Search Central.

Common Alt Text Mistakes

Stuffing keywords in the alt text is not the only mistake you can make.

Here are a few examples of common alt text mistakes:

  • Failure to use the alt text or using empty alt text.
  • Using the same alt text for different images.
  • Using very general alt text that does not actually describe the image. For example, using the alt text of “dog” on the photo of a dog instead of describing the dog in more detail, its color, what it is doing, what breed it is, etc.
  • Automatically using the name of the file as the alt text – which may lead to very unfriendly alt text, such as “googlesearchconsole,” “google-search-console,” or “photo2323,” depending on the name of the file.

Alt Text Writing Tips

And finally, here are the tips on how to write correct alt text so that it actually fulfills its purpose:

  • Do not stuff keywords into the alt text. Doing so will not help your web page rank for these keywords.
  • Describe the image in detail, but still keep it relatively short. Avoid adding multiple sentences to the alt text.
  • Use your target keywords, but in a natural way, as part of the image’s description. If your target keyword does not fit into the image’s description, don’t use it.
  • Don’t use text on images. All text should be added in the form of HTML code.
  • Don’t write, “this is an image of.” Google and users know that this is an image. Just describe its content.
  • Make sure you can visualize the image’s content by just reading its alt text. That is the best exercise to make sure your alt text is OK.

How To Troubleshoot Image Alt Text

Now you know all the best practices and common mistakes of alt text. But how do you check what’s in the alt text of the images of a website?

You can analyze the alt text in the following ways:

Inspecting an element (right-click and select Inspect when hovering over an image) is a good way to check if a given image has alt text.

However, if you want to check that in bulk, I recommend one of the below two methods.

Install Web Developer Chrome extension.

Screenshot of Web Developer Extension in Chrome by authorScreenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

Next, open the page whose images you want to audit.

Click on Web Developer and navigate to Images > Display Alt Attributes. This way, you can see the content of the alt text of all images on a given web page.

The alt text of images is shown on the page.Screenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

How To Find And Fix Missing Alt Text

To check the alt text of the images of the entire website, use a crawler like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb.

Crawl the site, navigate to the image report, and review the alt text of all website images, as shown in the video guide below.

You can also export only images that have missing alt text and start fixing those issues.

Alt Text May Not Seem Like A Priority, But It’s Important

Every source of information about your content has value. Whether it’s for vision-impaired users or bots, alt text helps contextualize the images on your website.

While it’s only a ranking factor for image search, everything you do to help search engines understand your website can potentially help deliver more accurate results. Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility is also a critical component of modern digital marketing.

FAQ

What is the purpose of alt text in HTML?

Alternative text, or alt text, serves two main purposes in HTML. Its primary function is to provide a textual description of an image if it cannot be displayed. This text can help users understand the image content when technical issues prevent it from loading or if they use a screen reader due to visual impairments. Additionally, alt text aids search engine bots in understanding the image’s subject matter, which is critical for SEO, as indexing images correctly can enhance a website’s visibility in search results.

Can alt text improve website accessibility?

Yes, alt text is vital for website accessibility. It translates visual information into descriptive text that can be read by screen readers used by users with visual impairments. By accurately describing images, alt text ensures that all users, regardless of disability, can understand the content of a web page, making the web more inclusive and accessible to everyone.

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