PDFs can be a very powerful tool in the right hands when used correctly. They can be a great way to introduce a product. Or they may be used to establish your expertise in a particular subject. Many businesses decide to use PDFs as educational tools and build authority. However, if you want these to work, there are some rules you’ll have to follow. There are also things that you can do to maximize their impact. Let’s take a look at how you can create effective PDF marketing materials.
Make the Document Text-Based
Your PDF must be text-based as much as possible. That’s because you want it to be easily searchable and indexable by search engines. So, forget about transforming one of your old infographics if you want to get the most visibility on search engines. Text-based PDFs also have the advantage of being smaller in size.
If you want to use scanned material for your PDF, know that it can still be text-based. There are plenty of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) tools available that will allow you to turn a scanned image into text.
Save the PDF in an Older Version
The reason for this is simple. You want people to be able to use and read your PDF even if they have an older version of Adobe Acrobat. Others may want to read it on a different program and those may not be up to date with the latest PDF versions. By going with a slightly older version, you’ll make sure that more people can read it.
If we were to suggest a version, we would say that PDF 1.5 or 1.6 would be perfect. These would be current enough for you to add all the elements that you want and will be viewable for most.
Make it as Compact as Possible
One of the many benefits of PDFs is that they can be compressed to very small sizes and you should compress them as much as you can without compromising quality. There are tons of tools that you can find that will allow you to compress your PDF during and after you’ve created it.
To properly optimize your PDF, you will need to identify the areas that are heaviest and lighten them as much as possible. Images are one example – and don’t assume that you need the best resolution in the world for them to look good. You can also flatten transparencies and limit your choice of fonts.
Make Sure it’s Optimized for all Devices
You also have to make sure that the PDF is mobile friendly. A lot of people like to read PDFs on the go, whether it’s on their mobile or tablet, and you have to make sure that the experience is pleasurable for them.
Going for a text format will make a big difference here. These are much more readable on mobile devices thanks to text wrapping. This means that readers won’t have to scroll horizontally and constantly have to readjust size to read the text. The text will be at a nice readable size and they’ll be able to scroll it vertically.
One thing you’ll need to watch, however, is images. These can cause issues and you have to think carefully about how they’re placed so they don’t affect the mobile experience negatively.
The next step is making sure that you have a clear plan in place to distribute your PDF. One of the best ways is to give it for free to visitors coming to your website. Don’t be afraid of pop-ups here. Users are used to them, and they are efficient. Make sure that your report is front and center and incentivize people to pick it up.
Push it to people on your list if you have one. Once they’ve received it, send follow up messages relating to the document to make sure that they read it or as a way to engage them. Segment your list to include those who were introduced to your brand through your report first.
Make it Viral
Another thing you can do if you want your PDF to get tons of visibility is adding a viral element to it. For instance, make it clear to people that they are free to distribute this PDF to anyone they feel. In fact, encourage them to do so. Make sure that every page is marked with your website’s address so they can reach you, and also add a link to your website, newsletter, blog, and social media at the end. Don’t be surprised if you see a sudden spike in traffic if you distributed it to enough people at the beginning.
Use Links Properly
Links can also be very powerful tools in PDFs. They can be used to redirect people to other resources. Or they could include links to certain products you may be selling. You could even add some affiliate links in there.
But you’ll need to be careful here as you’re required by the FTC to disclose if you’re getting a commission on any of the links in your document or website. Don’t worry, however, as clients for the most part won’t have an issue with them as long as they’re relevant and genuinely helpful.
Use the Right Tools
You don’t necessarily have to use Adobe Acrobat these days to create great looking PDFs. There are plenty of tools that are perfect for designing reports and brochures. Canva is a great example.
The tool is very user-friendly and doesn’t have the same learning curve as Acrobat. All you have to do is choose from one of their templates and customize it to your needs. Lucidpress is another great option, and also has an extensive template library with tons of customizable elements such as fonts, images, and colors.
PDF marketing materials are a great way to build your brand and create an instant and strong reaction with your audience. Make sure that you have a good plan in place for distribution and follow up with readers if you want to capitalize on them.