A white paper is generally a collection of advice, tips and recommendations for action. White papers are often used in politics and public relations. In online marketing, white papers are now established as a free guide, especially within content marketing as a form of advertising with added value.


The "White Paper" was originally a position paper that was used in politics to clearly present facts and background information on a topic. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were white envelopes in England, which were used for short government papers. These "white papers" were significantly shorter than the long bills that were put into blue envelopes. Until today, the term white paper has been used for short explanatory texts or guidebooks.

In the 1980s, the white paper established itself in computer technology as a document with which technical connections or products were explained simply and vividly. Meanwhile, the white paper is used far beyond its initial political context. Typical white papers are PDF documents that companies offer to their target group online, creating added value for their users and at the same time showing that they are experts in their field.

Possible uses[edit]

Whitepapers can serve several purposes today.

  • Lead generation: With a range of white papers, online shops or other companies can generate new customers on the internet. For example, the white paper is usually offered free of charge in return for providing email addresses. In the best case scenario, this is a win-win situation for providers and customers. The entrepreneurs receive new customer addresses, and the target group is provided with practical advice.
  • Customer loyalty: White papers can strengthen customer loyalty. It can be part of customer relationship management, offering practical instructions on products or information sheets as whitepapers to complement services.
  • Branding: Companies can strengthen their brand awareness and reach by offering high-quality whitepapers

Advantages of the White Paper[edit]

There are several advantages to creating and publishing white papers:

  • Strengthen expert status: By publishing in-depth knowledge and practical advice, companies can demonstrate their expert status in their field. At the same time, the trust in the company is strengthened. The company can become an innovation leader.
  • Increase reach: If whitepapers are also shared on social networks, regular publication increases the company's reach. Depending on the content of the white paper, the white paper may also have a viral effect.
  • Ranking advantages: Whitepapers are usually very well-researched pieces of content that have potential to gain good rankings in Google. It is important that the contents of the Google white paper can also be crawled.
  • Cost-effective way to win customers: Whitepapers can be part of inbound marketing. The free information with added value can be advertised and can be found on the internet by the target group with good search engine optimization.

Benefits for online marketing[edit]

White papers can be easily integrated into an existing online marketing concept. The format is well suited to become part of content marketing. White papers can also be used to generate leads in affiliate marketing or advertised with display advertising. It is also possible to include white papers in newsletter campaigns.

One advantage of white papers is that existing content can be used. It only needs to be reprocessed in another form. Whitepapers are therefore also a very cost-effective form of online marketing.


The following procedure is recommended for efficient whitepaper marketing:

  • Identify your target group: The orientation of the white paper can be determined by precisely defining the target group. For example, should it be written for beginners or for professionals?
  • Viewing existing content: If content, text or images already exist, whitepapers can be created more quickly.
  • Select a topic: The topic of the white paper should offer a solution to an existing problem. The content should then be written as neutrally as possible and avoiding too much promotional material. The content should be of a very high quality so that users get real added value by downloading the white paper, and it should not be too long.
  • Promotion: After completion, the white paper should be promoted via social media, newsletters, search engine advertising and other channels. Tracking should be set up so that the success of the white paper can be measured.