Articles - Online & Offline marketing using PDF documents
One of the challenges in effective Internet marketing is the fact that prospective clients aren't online and visiting web sites 18 hours a day - also, not everyone is part of the Internet surfing community - I know, it was a shock to me as well ;0)
The latest figures I have access to, March 2002, peg the global online population at somewhere between 450 - 550 million people with regular Internet access - around 5% of the global population. In the USA, surfers are online, on average, 11 hours a month. The Internet still has a long way to go to catch up with television in terms of coverage and "participation" - if you can call watching TV that!
There's still a huge section of the population that we can't reach. And regarding those that we can, how do we get them to remember our products and services once they have gone offline?
Three letters - PDF.
PDF in online marketing
We've been using PDF for online and offline marketing for some time now, and it has been very successful. It doesn't have to cost a fortune to buy a PDF creator. You can learn more about very economical alternatives to products such as Adobe Acrobat on the following page:
The PDF document format is a very powerful tool when used correctly. In a site we recently developed we placed a small blurb under directly under the company banner area stating "In a hurry? Click here for free Infosheet!" This statement linked to a page with the titles and descriptions of all the PDF documents available that summarized the various service areas and products of the company.
Using this strategy, we captured the attention of prospective clients who have a tendency to jump from site to site if they can't find the information they want within 2 or 3 clicks. Within the free downloads section was basically the entire site, all packaged in its specific service areas!
PDF in offline marketing
The benefits of this online marketing strategy translate directly into offline benefits as well. Clients who download the documents for viewing later on may also print them out. These documents are sometimes left laying around or presented at meetings. This attracts the attention of those who may not have been exposed to the product or service previously! The PDF documents might also be reproduced and distributed, creating a viral marketing effect.
Offline marketing doesn't come much cheaper than this! For the small outlay of an effective PDF creation software package, some development time and perhaps the extra bandwidth for distributing the marketing package online, your products and services can reach many more people than just having your online representation. The cost of offline distribution is zero, as your prospective clients pay for the printing and photocopying! PDF documents can incorporate images, sound and hyperlinks. The hyperlink feature allows clients to easily access other resources on your web site.
PDF document protection
Many online businesses are still using Word documents for this kind of marketing. This isn't a very good idea, mainly for security reasons. A Word document, even with a read only password attached can still be altered and saved under another file name. Competitors may use your own marketing against you by misrepresenting the product. The other issue is plagiarism. Marketing materials in Word format are easy to copy - your hours of sweating over the creation of perfect ad copy can very easily benefit a competitor through theft.
The PDF format supports a full range of options for security. Most PDF converter software package makes use of these features by offering options such as password, edit, copy and print protection.
Creating PDF documents is easy
The creation of PDF documents is a very simple process, but this will depend on the kind of PDF converter software you are using. In most cases, if you are using Word to create the document, the PDF conversion software usually has a Word plug-in. You simply create your document, select the "Convert to PDF" or similar function from the Word menu and you're done!
While PDF documents are a great strategy as part of an overall Internet marketing plan, there are a couple of points to be aware of.
Search engine compatibility
The other great thing about PDF is that an increasing number of search engines can now "spider" (read) the PDF format, giving you more bites at the search engine traffic apple!
PDF usage tips
- PDF can blow out in file size, making it inconvenient for people to download. Try breaking down your service areas into individual documents. Be careful of the size of diagrams, photos and other images within the source document. Using the resizing function within packages such as Microsoft Word doesn't alter the image file size one bit; it only makes it appear smaller on the page. If you have an image that's very large, resize it using a graphics package first and if you have the knowledge, ensure that you use the compression features available within most graphics packages. A decreased PDF file size not only saves you from irritating potential clients, but also saves you web site bandwidth usage.
- On your downloads page, make sure that you accompany each download link with a brief description of exactly what the document contains. Also note the size of the document. This will decrease the number of dropped downloads through the impatience or time limitations of potential clients.
- If you are going to upload your .PDF documents without zipping them first, ensure that you add instructions for people to download the document by right-mouse button clicking on the link and selecting "save target as" (or the equivalent in Netscape). This ensures that the document doesn't attempt to open in the browser, but is saved to their hard drive. PDF document links without these instructions cause a great deal of annoyance to web site visitors as a large document opening within the browser window via an online source can actually crash low-end systems.
- Always place a link in a prominent place so that visitors who don't have a free PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat Reader can easily obtain one. Ensure that the link to the free PDF reader software site opens in a new window - otherwise you may lose the potential client altogether!
- Use the security features of your PDF conversion software. We suggest making your Information/Product sheet printable, but to disable the copy and edit functions.
Which PDF converter or creation software to use?
There are a number of alternatives to Adobe Acrobat for creating and converting documents to PDF. While Adobe's product is the industry leader and of very high quality, the price can be out of the range of many small businesses. For some alternatives to Adobe Acrobat, please view the following page:
Alternatives to PDF documents
In some scenarios, the information sheets you are providing may be the product itself for which you wish to charge a fee. In these situations, ebook creation software may be more suitable. Ebooks tend to be stand-alone software, not requiring a plug-in reader.
For further information on the benefits of ebooks, please view:
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