Fact: PDFs are the third most popular file format on the Web, ranking ahead of JPEG, PNG and GIF files
Despite this, we often take them for granted and fail to take advantage of all the features.
The challenge is many people still see PDFs as static assets.
The reality, however, is that PDFs are powerful tools that drive interactivity and engagement and, as importantly, can have their performance measured and analyzed.
What is a PDF?
Everyone is familiar with the acronym (PDF), which stands for Portable Document Format. With it, you can store content that's accessible regardless of what device or software you're using.
PDFs do not require special software, so you can share them and be sure they can open them.
PDFs: What Are They Used For?
The use cases for PDFs are varied.
They're so ubiquitous in today's digital world that you don't even realize you use them.
The most common use of PDFs is to share fixed or static files. Unlike Word documents, documents you create and share won't be editable by others.
Popular uses of PDFs include manuals, guides, eBooks, magazines, newsletters, and catalogues.
Unfortunately, most of these documents are static with limited interactivity. At best, they feature images and Website links.
But PDFs have dramatically changed in many ways. Here are a few features that will change your mind about how to create, distribute and extract value from PDFs.
One of the most exciting things about PDFs is that they’ve become more interactive and engaging in recent years.
Digital publishing platforms like Joomag make it easy to transform static, one-dimensional PDFs into dynamic, immersive and multi-faceted marketing and sales assets featuring videos, photos, audio, slide shows, feedback forms, e-commerce widgets, and links to Websites.
Interactivity is a game-changer for companies that distribute PDFs and want to stand out from the crowd with content that’s more accessible, engaging, and user-friendly.
For example, a magazine can include:
Links to related content (internal and external)
Videos featuring subject matter experts
Audio (mini-clips and podcasts)
E-commerce widget to purchase products featured in an article
Feedback forms that let readers provide ideas and comments.
It allows PDFs to deliver more options, making them more interesting and stickier rather than just words and images.
It’s one thing to reimagine the PDF with interactive elements, but, as important, it’s now possible to have in-depth analytics to assess their performance.
Historically, the KPIs for PDFs have been two-fold: email opens and Website clicks.
Unfortunately, these metrics show basic activity but little insight into what’s happening and how prospects, customers, employees and partners interact with your PDFs.
Today, platforms like Joomag delivers robust analytics to quantify the performance of PDFs on an individual, page, and publication basis.
To improve your content and jump-start business development and sales, real-time analytics delivers guidance on optimizing your content. The more data-driven insights you have, the better your content will perform.
In most cases, PDFs are used to publish shareable documents, but they cannot be edited. However, this reality is changing.
Platforms like Joomag can easily and quickly edit PDFs, and, more importantly, they can be updated in real-time to include new details and information. Mistakes can also be corrected - whether it be a typo or adding the wrong image.
So how does editing and updating PDFs happen?
Unlike a static PDF that can’t be updated once delivered, the new PDF is Web-based and accessed via a URL. The most recent version is available when someone wants to read it, delivering the same functionality as a Web page.
The PDF's flagship feature has been its ease of sharing information over the years.
You can download a PDF and send it in a new email or simply forward an email with an attached PDF.
But that’s just a starting point.
Today, you can:
Share via link featuring the latest information (see the “Edit” section)
Distribute using private links, passwords, and IP addresses so only authorized users can access it. It is also possible to limit access by publication or page.
PDF can also be distributed within newsletters, Website embeds, SMS, and mobile apps.
While analytics provides insight into how people access and engage with PDFs, they can also deliver real-time feedback while reading content.
You can easily collect ideas, recommendations, questions, ratings, and surveys from readers directly within your content with customizable widgets.
Feedback helps you:
Turn disengaged readers into brand advocates.
Engage readers by asking about their needs, interests, challenges, and ideas.
Improve your content marketing strategy by identifying what customers do and don’t like about your products.
Make readers feel more appreciated and valued, empowering them to take active roles instead of passive ones.
Identify new topics of interest to build around your content pipeline.
Incorporate positive feedback on websites, promotional campaigns, and social media accounts to build brand reputation.
Organizing your PDF files more efficiently is the next step.
If the PDF was created by converting it from another form like Word, and you need the original copy, that can make it difficult to make amendments.
This document might be outdated and need changes, so how can you do that?
Another great improvement to PDFs is the ability to delete and reorder pages within the PDF. In addition, there's the option to rotate certain pages (e.g. to view a chart or table better).
As well, you can now extract or insert particular pages.
Let’s Make 2023 the Year of PDF!
PDFs are becoming far more than simply fixed, shareable documents.
With PDFs, you can edit, comment, analyze, share, organize, and more.
PDFs' interactive and analytics elements have come a long way and dramatically improve the performance and maximize your ROI.
If you want more value from your PDFs, get in touch now!