Have you published a white paper that’s easy to read on smartphones? If not, that’s what I expected because there’s a “best practice” in B2B marketing that goes something like this:
Step 1: Put your best content in a downloadable file designed for PC-based viewing or hard copy printing.
Step 2: Put it behind a gated registration page.
Step 3: Promote the registration page.
Due to this “best practice,” the traditional B2B white paper is failing smartphone users.
You see, when a downloadable file is optimized for PC-based viewing, it’s going to be hard to read on a smartphone. The fonts and images will all look too small. For example, the following image is a screenshot of a traditional, downloadable white paper on a smartphone. It’s much too difficult to read. And, it’s just one of hundreds of thousands of downloadable white papers.
I predict that a new best practice will emerge where white papers are published as long-form, web-based, mobile-optimized content.
It’s difficult to find good examples of this, but I’ve managed to find six. And my top two are not even from marketers, they’re from mobile-savvy publishers: The Verge and Baekdal.com. However, the other four are from marketers: Buffer, feedly, Google, and Adobe.
When you have a chance, look at some of these examples on a smartphone. I think you’ll find that they provide a far better experience for smartphone users in comparison to the traditional, downloadable white paper.
My six examples include:
1. “The State of Virtual Reality” by Matthew Schnipper @ The Verge
This long-form article looks great on mobile, has easy transitions from one section to the next, and is easy to share.
2. “The Future of VR and 360 Video” by Thomas Baekdal @ Baekdal.com
This article delivers 44 pages of premium content to users on one scrolling page. It keeps readers interested with images and embedded videos that are easy to view from a smartphone. You might think it’d be slow to load, but in my experience, it loads extremely fast.
3. “The Biggest Social Media Science Study” by Kevan Lee @ Buffer
This is a research-backed, long-form blog post about when to schedule tweets. It’s as meaty as a traditional downloadable white paper. Yet, unlike the traditional white paper, it can easily be read and shared by mobile users.
4. “Meet Shared Collections” by feedly
This is a product announcement blog post that links to an online tutorial. Together, these two pieces of content deliver about as much information as an average white paper. But, like the others above, it’s mobile friendly and therefore has a better chance of getting read and shared as compared to a traditional, downloadable white paper.
5. “Win Every Micro-Moment with a Better Mobile Strategy” by Matt Lawson @ Think with Google
It would have been hypocritical for Google to publish this three-part mobile marketing guide without optimizing it for smartphone viewing. Sure enough, the guide works fantastically on smartphones and even has a neat sharing feature where the individual charts scattered throughout the piece can be shared with just a few taps.
6. “Measuring TV Audiences with Science” by Jennifer Cooper @ Adobe’s Digital Marketing Blog
Here’s another example of content that’s meaty enough to fill a traditional, downloadable white paper, but is published on a blog where everything is mobile-optimized by default.
As a reader and writer of B2B white papers, I hope to see more of them published as long-form, web-based, mobile-optimized content.