3 steps for calculating the ROI of your White Papers

  In Content Marketing

According to DemandGen, 76% of visitors are willing to exchange personal data for access to high-quality white papers. Not only that, but the same report shows that 78% of customers used white papers as a source of information for purchasing decisions.

Such preferences happen mainly due to the high granularity of white papers. They are pieces of content that require extensive research and curation in order to deliver high value to the target market. This also results in higher costs than the average blog post and it poses challenges to defining their actual monetary value and ROI. This article will present three straightforward, data-driven suggestions for calculating the ROI of white papers and understand whether the investment is being positive for your SaaS business.

1. Define the monetary value of a white paper conversion

Defining the monetary value of a lead obtained through a white paper is the most important step in the process of calculating a white paper’s ROI. The most straightforward estimation technique is to calculate the value of a conversion based on the percentage of leads who actually subscribe to your service or buy your product times the price of the purchase. If 10% of people who share their contact information in exchange for your white paper successfully finish a purchase, then the value of a conversion is 1/10th the value of the purchase.

A more sophisticated approach involves calculating the Customer Lifetime Value for the average customer and applying the percentage of leads who actually finish the buyer’s journey to that amount. Once you have the monetary value of a conversion, set up Google Analytics goals in order to obtain the total revenue for the white paper conversions on your website.

2. Compute the costs of producing and advertising your white paper

Paid strategies for advertising your white paper involve AdWords PPC campaigns, Facebook Ads, Display Advertising, purchasing a review from an online influencer in your industry, among other possibilities. It is essential, therefore, to keep track of your online paid campaigns and avoid advertising different types of content under the same campaign.

It’s recommendable to create several smaller campaigns focused on a specific piece of content and keep a detailed record of your expenses. This makes the process of calculating the advertising costs of a white paper much more straightforward.

For example, consider a CPC campaign where your daily budget is $100 and your conversion rate is 10%. This resulting customer acquisition cost is $10.00 per conversion, meaning that you will have a positive return if the Customer Lifetime Value of your service or product is higher than $10.00.

Finally, add together the two figures – the cost of producing and the cost of advertising – to obtain the total cost of your white paper. With your total costs, it is now possible to calculate the gross margin from your white papers by setting up a simple formula:

This formula also gives you the break-even point, or the number of customers you need to acquire in order to pay for the fixed costs of producing a white paper. Simply set the Revenue equal to $0 and solve the equation for # of Customers. Once the fixed costs are paid, every new customer will increase the profits of your SaaS business.

3. Track the leads obtained through white papers and understand their behavior

Once you have the estimated revenues and the total costs, calculating the ROI becomes a matter of simply dividing the final profit by the initial investment. Naturally, it is always recommended that you constantly optimize your online campaigns to increase ROI, and a great way of doing it is to keep track of your audience acquired through AdWords CPC campaigns.

Then, using AdWords Similar Audiences, you can target users’ similar to the list of customers you recently acquired. Your campaigns end up targeting customer personas based on profiles of your most lucrative type of visitor – people who have purchased your product!

Now that you have a solid strategy to calculate the ROI of your white paper, it is time to start developing your publications. Curata offers a comprehensive guide for starters who want to understand the different aspects involved in assembling an authoritative white paper. If, however, you are looking for a very detailed guide, we recommend this White Paper Writing Guide by Impact Technical Publications. Despite being first published in 2005, its information is extremely valuable for anyone involved in the process of creating a white paper.

Make sure to read the guides carefully to understand how the different aspects of a white paper come together to form a cohesive piece of content and start enjoying immediately the benefits of this highly efficient piece of content!

Marccx Media
Michael Peggs is the founder of Marccx Media, a digital marketing agency specializing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Before Marcxx, Peggs worked at Google in business development, forming digital media and advertising partnerships in the United States and Asia. He is also a contributor to The Huffington Post, FastCompany and Business Insider as well as and podcaster, hosting the iTunes Top 10 New & Noteworthy Podcast You University.
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