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So you’ve spent the time to develop a white paper. But have you done all you can to maximize its visibility? Here are three proven steps you can take to increase the likelihood that prospects will find and read your papers.

tree-covered-laneDraw in Readers with a Compelling Title

The majority of prospects find white papers by conducting a search in Google or another search engine. Depending on the keywords the prospect uses, it’s very possible that your paper will appear as one of thousands of results. Consider this – a Google search on the term “white paper” on June 3, 2009 yielded 86,100,000 results!

In The Well-Fed Writer, Peter Bowerman says, “A title is a lure. It’s the hook of any article, book, or white paper. A good one will draw a reader in; a weak one will have that reader turn the page, move on to the next shelf and click the next link.”

In fact, the title should be considered a promise of sorts. Think of it as providing insight into what the prospect will get by investing the time to read your paper. With that in mind, you want to make sure your white paper title stands apart from the crowd. Things to consider:

  • Include a number in the title: If your paper covers steps, tips, or best practices, make sure to highlight the number in the title. For example, “5 Ways to Protect Your Intellectual Property.” People are drawn to white papers that include practical tips or steps.
  • Keep it short. MarketingSherpa conducted research into the most-viewed white papers on CNET Networks Business sites. For the topic of digital security, the most downloaded paper was titled “The Starter PKI Program,” while the least popular one was “An Introduction to Enterprise Public Key Infrastructure (PKI).”
  • Don’t fool around. According to the CNET Networks Business research, prospects won’t download white papers with titles that include a play on words.
  • Call it something else. Perhaps the best way to gain high visibility in a sea of white papers is to call it something else, such as an e-book, special report, guide, or handbook.

Sprinkle Keywords Throughout the Executive Summary

According to MarketingSherpa, “The abstract page is often indexed by search engines, so you’ll want to optimize your abstract/summary with the right keywords.” One place to start is by using a keyword tool such as Wordtracker or Trellian to understand which keywords are being used in searches. Then work a few of those terms into your executive summary.

Other points to keep in mind when crafting the executive summary:

  • Minimize technical jargon. Instead focus on the terms that prospects are likely to search on. MarketingSherpa found that prospects search on terms related to their problems far more often than they search on terms related to a solution.
  • Identify the target audience, e.g., “This paper helps HR directors at small- and medium-sized businesses…”.
  • Highlight the problems or challenges that your paper covers – and that your prospects are experiencing.

Get the Word Out

Many companies post the finished white paper to their Web site and notify the sales force, executives, and channel partners. But there are many other ways to spread the word about your paper. Here are just a few:

  • Include a link in your next newsletter
  • Offer it within an email or direct mail to your prospect database
  • Encourage the sales force to include a link in their signature file
  • Make it a giveaway for Webinar or trade show attendees
  • Distribute a press release promoting the paper
  • Purchase a pay-per-click ad, such as a Google Ad
  • Submit it to trade publications and industry events as a thought leadership piece
  • Point your Facebook, Twitter, and other social network members to it
  • Mention it in the company blog
  • Syndicate it on sites such as Bitpipe,,, IDGConnect, IT Business Edge, KnowledgeStorm, Technology Evaluation Centers, and TechTarget