The problem with PDFs

02 January 2020 | by Lee Marsden

How much time do you spend creating high value PDF assets that act as the focal point of your content marketing campaign? On paper, PDFs are great, and quite literally - they’re a universal format designed for printing, after all! However, below the surface, this ageing content format can create challenges for both the audience, as well as the marketer... 

Below, you'll find three of the core challenges associated with using this ageing document format as part of your wider marketing activity, and why interactive content is an excellent alternative that can help solve these challenges.

3 problems with PDFs:

1. Analytics black holes

It can be difficult to prove the ROI of your content marketing, so the greater the amount of analytics available to you, the better. Understanding how your prospects interact with your high-value content, similarly to how you can measure your website interactions, allows you to better qualify leads, understand which content resonates with your audience, and continually improve and enhance your content. With PDFs, it’s difficult to measure success, because once a PDF has been downloaded, you lose all visibility and tracking capabilities. Your prospects could also leave your website, creating an end to their user journey!

A break in your understanding of your buyer’s journeys occurs as soon as your prospect presses “download” on your gated content. While you do acquire the information in the form submission, this is the end of your content tracking capabilities., you don’t know if they ever even open or read the document, making sales followup and lead attribution less effective.

2. Poor user experience

In terms of user experience, pressing download to receive a flat, text-heavy PDF isn’t great for your prospects, especially if viewing on mobile. PDFs don’t render well on small screens, so your users are forced to zoom in to be able to read. Designed for print, PDFs have never been responsive, and are designed to be consumed in a linear, page-by-page format. This also means it can be difficult for prospects to take key points out of a document or to find the content that's of relevance to them.

How many times have you filled in a submission form to download a monster PDF, but by page two lose interest, only to drift away to something else? PDFs are normally incredibly text-heavy, and are guilty for cramming text onto a page, making reading difficult, and unengaging.

3. Lack of engagement

Back in 2015, a report from DemandGen concluded that 91% of B2B buyers preferred to consume interactive content. Moving into 2020, brands are effectively utilising interactive content to educate buyers, differentiate their brand from competitors, nurture leads and much more. It's becoming increasingly popular because interactive media is great for promoting engagement with your content. Tools and resources like assessments, interactive infographics, quizzes, reports and calculators are great ways to deliver value, increase engagement, and capture data, while interactive eBooks and whitepapers allow you to deliver content on-page in a bitesize, easily navigated format. By contrast, none of this is possible in a PDF.


What’s the alternative to PDFs?

In the 25 years since PDFs were introduced to the world, digital marketing sophistication has come a long way. Now, you can replace your PDFs with content marketing platforms that provide you the ability to display interactive content complete with built-in tracking. Once your “download” form is filled in, you can measure the content they engaged with, which content your audience is skipping, and which supporting assets they downloaded.

Prospects of today expect to receive personalised marketing. So, by understanding which parts of your content is best received by your visitors, you can optimise your content marketing strategy and send personalised communications based on engagement, rather than subjective opinion.

The engagement and experiences a prospect has with your brand in the early stages formulates a strong opinion for them. If the follow up is a personalised informative experience they are more likely to engage further with your organisation.

PDFs were invented to solve the problem of the paperless office. They were not created to track engagement in your buyers’ journey or to allow your audience to interact with your brand,

That’s why we created Prism Present, an online digital marketing platform created to solve these exact problems.

Click on the button below and find out how you can use interactive content to make your digital marketing stand out in today’s saturated market!


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