Filter The NoiseBlog

We blog about design, technology, internet marketing and business on the web. As the name implies, we aim to "filter the noise" and share only the most relevant information. Feel free to chime in anytime with your thoughts and comments. Established 2004 in Colorado Springs, Colorado by HighTouch Web Design and Internet Marketing.

Effective Lead Generation: eBooks vs Whitepapers

Kim Kolb - Monday, June 28, 2010
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I just read a blog on why eBooks are better than Whitepapers.  At first I thought, I need to forward this on to one of my clients because they like writing Whitepapers.  Then I read the entire blog and find that although I think the intent of the article is good, I don't agree with all the points the author makes. Here are the points she makes.  I would really like your feedback.  There have been some good comments on the actual blog article so far that state some of my same concerns.
Although this blog is longer than I usually like to write, most of it is the opinions of the original author.

What Makes eBooks So Good?
  • They’re simple to create and inexpensive to produce – You don’t need a publisher or a printer! You just need some basic software and the time to write about your idea or innovative technique.
  • They’re engaging – Because they aren’t just PDFs or Word docs, you can actually get your reader to interact and take some type of action. Encourage them to click on links, fill out a survey, subscribe to your blog, watch a video or even buy something from you online.
  • They’re easy to distribute and spread like wildfire – Make the ebook free (don’t collect money, don’t collect email addresses) and add a Creative Commons license to the content so people can share the e-book easily. Create a landing page, add a call-to-action on your website, blog about it, put a link your email signature, email it to your friends/partners/vendors, post a video on YouTube, tell your fans and followers. 
  • They’re easy to read and more eco-friendly – Although whitepapers can be read online, the vertical formatting makes them difficult to read. eBooks are easily to read digitally on-demand while whitepapers often need to be printed to be read easily. 
What Makes Whitepapers So Bad?
  • They’re boring - Wikipedia defines a whitepaper as “an authoritative report or guide that often addresses issues and how to solve them. White papers are used to educate readers and help people make decisions.” Even the definition puts me to sleep.
  • They’re old school - They date back to the early 1900s. You might remember The Churchill White Paper of 1922 from your high school history class, you might not. Either way, we haven’t really changed the way we use them since then. They’re still a form of semi self-promotion and propaganda. It’s just that now they are found on the web and are used by businesses as a marketing or sales tool rather than promoting government policy.
  • They’re forced upon us – Most people don’t want to read whitepapers, they just feel like they have to read them because they’re “authoritative” and written by “industry leaders”. Or because their boss said so.
  • They’re not good link bait – Because you typically have to register (give your email address) to download the whitepaper, most people don’t promote or share whitepapers because they don’t want to force their fans and followers and friends to give their email address away and get hounded by sales reps.
My two cents:
  • eBooks may be simple to create and inexpensive, but as with any book that is authored, it takes thought and dedication to get through the book because of all the interactive pieces that have to be incorporated. Whitepapers have one purpose, to get information out to those who want it. 
  • eBooks are in pdf format just as Whitepapers are.  I think making the decision whether one is more engaging over the other should be left to the audience you are submitting it too.
  • I am not sure how an eBook is any easier to distribute than a Whitepaper.  You can disseminate them in the same fashion.
  • Reading an eBook can have it's challenges especially if you don't have a reader that lets you read in a book fashion or if you have to adjust your monitor.  Whitepapers would be easier to read vertically because that is how we are use to seeing it on our computer screen.
  • I don't agree with the methods of capturing data.  If you aren't at least capturing an email to download a Whitepaper or eBook, you are missing out on an opportunity to market to that person.  If they want what you have to offer bad enough, they will give you their contact info.
I would be interested to here what your opinions are on the eBook vs. the Whitepaper.

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