As a website is being constructed, updated, or enhanced, it’s crucial to consider the format for content. While most content will be available on the website to view as text, images, and video simply shown on the page, some content may also be offered in a downloadable format.

This encourages customers to interact and engage beyond just browsing site pages. It provides them with the information they can access later and ensures the website is uncluttered while still providing details that are relevant to the most desired visitors and customers. Virtually any website can benefit from downloadable content, and a PDF is a great way to include downloadable content in any marketing strategy.

What Is A PDF?

PDF stands for portable document format. This type of document is an excellent option for websites. PDFs generally adjust to the screen size customers are viewing, keeping the information consistent and easy to read. They can be viewed on any device, and customers can easily share PDFs with others.

On top of this, PDFs are not easily editable. Some PDFs can be created as a form for customers to fill out, but others are locked to prevent copying, cutting, and editing. This means the information stored in a PDF can’t be changed after its downloaded, thus creating a more secure way to offer information to customers.

Why Offer A PDF For Download?

Different types of companies can offer PDFs with useful information on their website. Customers looking for that information will then follow a prompt or submit information to get access to the download. Although the information can vary greatly, the design almost always provides branding opportunities.

Sometimes, websites will require signing up for an email list before the content can be downloaded. This helps the business develop new leads. Any type of company can offer PDFs to download, with or without requesting contact information from customers, and just about any information can be turned into a PDF.

Types Of PDFs Customers Look For

PDFs should be made with information customers will find intriguing or that can help inspire them to make a purchase. Almost any information, whether brief or comprehensive, basic or complex, can be turned into a PDF.

Some of the most common types of PDFs found on company and business websites include FAQ sheets, user guides or manuals, menus, price lists, and catalogs. Other options may offer eBooks, infographics, and white papers.

The type of information included in a PDF can depend on the type of company. Restaurants, for example, can put the menu on a PDF, so it’s easy for customers to view and save, even print. Hardware companies or manufacturers might create wholesale and retail-specific price lists for each type of product they sell.

This saves them from having long lists of different types of products on the website. Other types of PDFs, like eBooks, may work well for just about any company that has guidance or solutions to share with customers.

Benefits Of PDFs For This Information

So, why should PDFs be used for this type of information? There are a number of reasons to use PDFs instead of another format or putting it on the website itself.

Those include:

  1. Keep Website Decluttered – Websites can quickly become cluttered and hard to navigate or view when there’s a lot of information. Making some of it downloadable in a PDF clears up some of the website. This means there’s more room for more typical information that may be more essential, general, or less-targeted to a specific persona or type of customer.
  2. Accessible Format – A PDF is a far more accessible format than other downloadable files. Many documents, like PowerPoint presentations or files created in word-processing apps, require specific software to view. A PDF can be viewed on any device using various software that is often included by default on a range of devices. This means anyone, no matter the type of device they’re using, can view the document easily without any discrepancy from one program to the next.
  3. Clarity For Customers – Organized information provides clarity for customers and also enables you to target their needs and interests. PDFs can be customized, branded, and varied based on specific sensibilities and offerings. They can include more detailed and in-depth information than would be suitable for a page on a company website. This helps to clarify details that otherwise wouldn’t be easily available to customers.
  4. Consistency To Find Info – When PDFs are used on the website—and are clearly titled and even paired with a short contents summary—it can help keep everything organized and consistent. Customers will know exactly where to find the information they need, which means they don’t have to search. This prevents frustration, which could cause a customer to leave the website.
  5. Versatility Of The Format – The PDF format can be set up with just about any layout to make organizing the information contained within easier. Pages can be landscape or portrait, photos, and clickable links can be included, and there can be charts, graphs, or other infographics to help organize the information.

Branding And Customizing PDFs

When a PDF is used as part of a marketing plan, it needs to be branded and customized. Branding the PDF helps improve company and product recognition for customers. A properly branded design helps viewers recognize the company and makes it more memorable and reputable than the competitor. There are many ways to brand and customize a PDF.

  • Use the Company Logo – The company logo may be placed at the top of the first page, or a smaller version can be placed on each page – or both. The key is to make it unobtrusive while still ensuring it’s clear and present to be seen by viewers.
  • Use the Right Colors – The colors used should match the branding for the company. Stick with the same color schemes and graphic style as the website to create consistency that merges the PDF with the provider.
  • Add Company Info – Company info should be included in the PDF. The name should be prominent at the top of the main page, then included unobtrusively on each remaining page. The PDF can also include the most relevant contact information for the type of viewer or customer to rely upon. This is useful for department-, product-, or customer-specific PDFs. It provides the viewer with the shortest route to the solution they seek.

Use PDFs To Create Value-Added Incentives

One of the best ways to use PDFs on a website is as a value-added incentive. A value-added incentive is something that a customer gets for free, like a coupon, guide, or helpful resource, which is given in exchange for providing their information for later contact.

A good example of this is when a company offers an eBook for free once visitors sign up for their mailing list. A PDF can be used in this way, providing exclusive information that isn’t available elsewhere. In turn, the PDF provider gets a link and other useful information about a prospective customer or contact.

The goal here is to provide information customers want that they can’t get elsewhere. It must be enough of an incentive to make them amenable to the idea of being added to an email list or a customer database.

This may not be the best option for a PDF of an essential product manual, for instance, but it works well for a PDF that includes useful or interesting information that will help them before they make a purchase or to get better results from that purchase.

Anything that provides extra value to the customer can be useful for this purpose as it will encourage customers to provide their email address, complete a survey, or offer other details. This amounts to a new lead for the company and a higher potential for a sale in the future.

How To Design A PDF

PDFs used as part of a marketing plan should be designed carefully to include pertinent information, attractive and branded graphics, and all with a clear layout. It should be well-organized so it’s easy for viewers and customers to find the information they need. When it comes to designing the PDF, business owners have the option of doing it through basic DIY resources or working with a professional.

The DIY option is a way to save money, but there are definitely some downsides to this decision. When a PDF includes logos, company colors, graphics, charts, or other design elements, it can be hard to bring all these elements together. There is software available to help create the PDF, but the design is up to the creator. With this option, there’s as much room for mistakes as there is for success.

When a professional handles the PDF creation, there’s less to worry about in terms of quality. Reputable professionals will have experience adding in various design elements. It’s part of their job to know how to arrange everything so the results are effective and appealing. Professional designers and marketers can provide advice on what information to add to the PDF. They’ll create a PDF with a professional touch—one that customers will be able to distinguish.

Today, websites need to include a lot of information, and it’s not always easy to add it without pages and navigation becoming cluttered. A PDF is the solution, and, as an added bonus, it can be used as part of a marketing strategy to draw in more visitors and get more leads. When you’re thinking about using a PDF on your website, consider working with a professional.

They’ll help you create a stunning document that’s designed to work with your marketing plan. The right team can help you with everything, from choosing the right topic to creating a design that inspires customers to learn more and make a purchase.