How to Make Technical White Papers More Engaging

Amy Brueckman    By under White Paper Marketing.

So, you've done your research and you're ready to release your findings into the world in the form of a white paper. These documents are a great way to establish a company's reputation as an expert on certain topics.

However, presenting research and data isn't always the most interesting thing in the world (despite how useful it may be!). How can you make your whitepaper informative, yet interesting enough not to bore your readers to tears? This month we asked the experts:

How can brands make highly technical white papers more engaging?

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Tech whitepapers can often be a little boring because of the sheer amount of data and tone of voice many tech companies tend to take.

To make whitepapers more interesting, then, it's important to think about how that data or information is relevant to the reader and talking to them in a relaxed and personal tone of voice, rather than a professional or university-like way.

Reframing certain pieces of information and making them comparable to something we already know about can also make things much more interesting.

For example, if you were talking about 5G internet speed, rather than just throwing a tonne of stats out there, making a direct comparison to how fast (or slow) 4G is currently would make the example much more relevant to the reader. If you gave them a real-life example too, such as how fast they'll be able to download a movie or send a 10GB file, that would also make things more interesting.

Imagery is also key and I think using an almost infographic-like approach can make for a much more interesting whitepaper. We take in information visually - especially if its new to us - so it's important to have a good balance of text and visual representation on the page.

Ollie Roddy, Catalyst.

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Tech white papers can quickly become overly technical drawing more yawns than "oh wow, that's insightful." A great way to keep eyes from blurring and attention from wavering is to add a little humor to your writing. Figure out what is the most staggering or enlightening statistics and use design to draw attention to these numbers. Play around with font size and color. Graphs also work well to break up endless rows of text.

If anything, using these methods will allow a reader to skim over each page and take away the most pertinent information.

Allan Dib, Successwise

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Tech white papers are typically full of jargon. This already makes them difficult to understand. If the paper is difficult to understand, it won't be engaging. To make comprehension easy, keep sentences short. Readers often have to reread long sentences.

Another tip: use the simplest word possible. Sometimes jargon is necessary. Whenever possible, though, use a synonym that more people will know. For instance, "use" is often a suitable (and simpler) substitute for "leverage."

Finally, be brief. Use as few words as possible to convey the point of the paper. Fewer readers will finish the paper if they think it's unnecessarily long..

Neil Thompson, Teach the Geek

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White papers don't have to be dead literature. Build in some scripting that lets the reader fill in their own data to see how those results would have impacted their specific business. Then, build out interactive white papers that allow end users to dive deeper into the elements that resonate the most for them. That way you can go deep everywhere and let the customer drive.

Alan Lafrance, Lawnstarter

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Technical white papers can be incredibly dry, but our best practice has been to involve the marketing team in the creation of white papers, rather than leaving it to a strictly technical person to write.

As a result, we have created white papers that are highly technical but still appealing to our audience. This is done by breaking up content into smaller sections so that the reader can jump around to what is important to them. We create attractive graphics and charts to accompany each section where it makes sense and ensure there is cohesive branding throughout. This has allowed us to get more use out of each white paper, as it serves as a technical document, marketing tool, and lead generator.

Alexandra Bohigian, Enola Labs