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chart showing 6 out of 10 marketers use white papers

This Just In: 6 out of 10 B2B marketers use white papers

No one has surveyed B2B marketers on their content efforts for as long as the Content Marketing Institute.

In case you missed the 12th annual B2B report for 2022, here are some highlights:

  • 56% of all B2B marketers surveyed use e-books/white papers
  • Even more (67%) of the most successful firms use those formats
  • 62% of the most successful firms use long articles (3,000+ words)

And the clear winner for the most successful format was virtual events/webinars. That’s not a big surprise during the pandemic.

But research reports (48%) and e-books/white papers (47%) were pretty much tied with short blog posts (48%) for the second-most effective format.

The past 10 years of B2B white papers

As for white papers, here’s a chart I made from the CMI research.

Over the past 10 years, on average 62% of B2B marketers surveyed have used a white paper in the past year.

chafrtshowing 6 out of 10 marketers use white papers

But look what happened in 2019 through 2021: a huge drop of more than 25 points!

That number bounced back nine points in 2022, but still. Does this mean white papers are a dinosaur on the way out?

Well, think about what else was happening in those years… a little thing called Covid-19.

At first, marketers were stunned. Everyone had to work remotely. Some people got terribly sick.

And then marketers were pressed with demands to pump out extra content to replace all those canceled trade shows and sales calls.

Not every team managed to publish long-form, authoritative content like white papers during that period.

I can understand why. It was far easier to focus on medium- and short-form content like blogs and social media.

But when they’re done properly, white papers work.

And I expect to see that usage number continue to hover around 60% for the foreseeable future.

That means millions of companies are still producing white papers.

But what is a …?

If I have one quibble with the CMI surveys, it’s the lack of clarity around the different categories of content.

What’s the difference between a research report, a long article, an e-book, and a white paper anyway?

If you merged all those together, you’d see long-form content as the #1 format by a long stretch.

But still, hats off to the CMI for their ongoing efforts to survey the field and their hefty annual reports.


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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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