Your content fails to convert because you haven’t convinced your audience you’re the right fit

So you’ve written a white paper, which the business thinks is great because it positions your product/service perfectly. And the audience loves it because you’ve seen a flurry of downloads. But where are the leads?

When there’s a lot of excitement around an asset it can be easy to get swept up and think your campaign has been a raging success. Yet at some point you need to report the figures – specifically the number of leads that campaign generated – and the answer isn’t what you were expecting.


Possibility 1: you’ve framed it the wrong way

We are inherently motivated by ‘loss aversion’ rather than ‘potential gains’. Which is unfortunate because it paves the way for excessive scaremongering, where companies try to encourage their customers to buy based on fear.

In the world of IT and tech, it’s particularly prevalent in the realm of cybersecurity. Within storytelling technique you’re taught that you always need a ‘villain’ – and what better villain is there then some unscrupulous cybercriminal lurking in the shadows, just waiting for the opportune moment to hack into your estate, steal your most precious assets and sell them on the dark web.

Yes, there’s all sorts of beautiful emotion-evoking language that you can use to paint that fearful picture of the worst-case scenario.

🧁But do you really want your customers to buy based on fear? Are we not supposed to help our customers? And in the process make them feel better about themselves?

🧁Yes, the cybercriminals are out there. Yes, organisations are always one step away from a breach. Yes, we all need to strengthen our security posture to ensure we’re protected.


🧁What does that strong security posture enable you to do?

For example, a few years ago I suffered a breach, which scared me senseless at the time and left me paranoid for months afterwards. But after investing in strengthening my security posture, I don’t worry to the same extent, which means I don’t allow bad actors to cloud my thoughts. Free from the nasty niggling doubt about what’s lurking in my IT infrastructure, I can focus, which means my clients get better quality work because my attention is only spent on the areas where I add most value to them.

It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about cybersecurity or something else, because the principle is the same: keep digging, keep questioning.

Eventually you will hit upon the positive thing, which addressing the negative thing enables you to do – and that will always resonate more and show your customers you truly understand their situation.

Learn more about how to tap into the way our brains naturally think.

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Possibility 2: your tone of voice is off

Your copy might sound great, but it’s not just about WHAT you say. HOW you say it is of equal importance.

For example, imagine you’re selling a platform that supports enterprises to address governance, risk, and compliance (GRC). It’s serious business, especially if the organisation operates in a highly regulated industry, like financial services. As well as the tool to help them manage GRC, that customer is also looking for the reassurance they’re in the hands of an expert, who will ensure they don’t fall foul of the regulator.

If you adopt a ‘hellraiser’ tone of voice (ToV), because you’re a disruptor and out to challenge the status quo, it may unsettle your audience if they feel you’re going to do something different or be careless in your approach. In this situation, a better tone could be an ‘authority’ who leads their industry, or a ‘bookworm’ who is a subject matter expert because they’ve been there, done that. With these ToVs, it gives the assurance of being in that ‘safe pair of hands’ who can take care of everything.

Conversely, let’s imagine you’re selling a cloud-based work management tool at a cost of £5 per user per month. Aimed at the creative industry, you can afford to be a ‘clown’ and inject some quirky ideas into the way you execute your copy, because they want to use tools that reflect their agency’s personality.

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and read your copy again. Do your words resonate with the way your audience is thinking? Or are they making them feel ill at ease?

Now try reading your copy again with a different ToV. If it helps, imagine yourself as a celebrity who encapsulated that tone – transforming into Stephen Fry to become an ‘educator’ or morphing into David Attenborough to play ‘detective’. Does this change the way your audience feels about your copy because they perceive you in a different light?

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Possibility 3: fear of the unknown

For your audience to read a meaty asset, like a white paper, indicates a certain level of commitment. If they’ve dedicated the time to read your copy, they’re a serious lead.

But from their perspective there’s a big unasked question: “What will it ACUALLY be like to work with you?” You might be saying all the right words, in the right order, and in the right way, but WHAT IF you’re not quite the right fit for their business?

Your lead may be sitting there wanting to convert, but fearing they’ll look stupid if they introduce the wrong person to their business. This is where case studies and testimonials can help, because they provide evidence of what it’s like to work with you, as well as the results you deliver.

I’m a massive advocate of case studies because they are a third-party endorsement from a ‘relatable middle ground’ (i.e. a company that was once in the same position as your current leads). And your case studies can be carved up and used throughout all your content to ‘sell’ you through your customer’s voice.

You don’t need to add a massive section into your white paper that’s a pure copy and paste of a case study. Rather, look for opportunities to insert your customer’s words into your current narrative.

For example, wanting to create quality white papers that resonated with its audience, Sullivan & Stanley engaged the services of a professional copywriter, who positioned the company as a thought leader by sharing new, rich insights, which differentiated it from the competition by demonstrating the value it has to offer.

Alternatively, you could use testimonials within your design to ‘boxout’ quotes that reinforce the point you’re making.

Her expertise, understanding of our audiences, and ability to produce outstanding work have helped to elevate our brand and messaging.”

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Want to learn more about how to write great content that doesn’t leave the audience questioning whether you’re the right fit for them?

🧁Download your white paper template.

🧁Learn more about content creation for market leaders.

🧁Read more about white paper writing.