The Death of PDF in Inbound Marketing: How Mobile is Changing the Game

The Death of PDF in Inbound Marketing: How Mobile is Changing the Game

Grimm PDF

Biting the dust. Kicking the bucket. Taking that final bow…

Yes, PDF­­—as an inbound marketing tool, you have one foot in the grave and the Grim Reaper is standing right behind you.

Ok. Perhaps I watch too many horror films but nevertheless, PDF, the reality of your limitations in the world of mobile responsive publishing has landed you on life support, hanging on by a thread.

In fairness to you, maybe you never aspired to be used as anything more than a final display format. Maybe, in our fury to plug you into our inbound marketing strategies, we placed expectations on you that were simply unattainable in the increasingly wireless world. Maybe, just maybe, it was because there just weren’t any better options. Well, guess what? There are now.

Still don’t want to pull the plug on PDF in your inbound marketing strategy? Allow me to convince you otherwise.

Mobile First.

At this point, we have all at least heard about the importance of having a responsive website and email campaigns, even if some of us have continued to resist doing so. It doesn’t matter to me if you design “mobile first” or “mobile last,” my point is that 65% of people open their email on mobile first. (1) Those same 65% of people are also going to try to download your whitepaper, eBook or guide onto their mobile device.

To the left is exactly what they will see if they download your content as a PDF onto their mobile device (in this case, iPhone 4S). To the right is what they will have to do to actually be able to read it! Once they zoom in to a size where the words are readable, the document no longer fits on the screen.

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 4.12.22 PM

I don’t know about you, but when this happens to me, I either:

  • A) Delete it
  • B) Close it because it is not convenient to read. Then it falls into the abyss of half-read emails, forgotten about like an old toy, or 
  • C) Try to read it, get frustrated about three lines in and then…delete it.

Apparently, I’m not alone: 80.3% say they will delete a message if it does not look good in their mobile inbox. (2)

According to Super Monitoring, not optimizing your content for mobile is like “closing your store once a week.” (3) In the physical world, I don’t know any business that would do that—it just doesn’t make good sense in terms of the bottom line. So why would you do it in the digital world? The good news is, you don’t have to. There are solutions.

Readz App-Like Content Creation Tool.

responsive tool example

Knowing the importance of content design and readability across devices, Readz developed a platform where any marketer or designer can create original content and publish online into whatever format they desire—whitepapers, eBooks, brochures, guides, etc.  To the left is what a guide looks like, for example, when viewed on the iPhone 4S using Readz.

First, font sizes are pleasingly readable without having to zoom.  What this static photo doesn’t show is the ease in which it was accessed—through a link! Anytime you create content on Readz, you are given a URL, which you can use to share that content.

Navigation is equally as easy. As you continue to scroll down, all images and text continue to be optimized for whatever device you are using.

CTA’s in my whitepaper? eBook? Guide?


To the right is a screen shot of some of the images in the guide. The cool thing is, they are clickable and will take you to other pages within the guide.

With that kind interactive capability, you can include CTA’s within your content. Let’s think about it: a static PDF with no further trackable actions is like dead-ending into a big, brick wall. Where can you go from there?

On the other hand, using a more interactive platform allows you to perfectly position your desired CTA so that your content can really strike when the iron is hot.

Know WHAT is actually read . . .

When someone downloads your whitepaper/eBook/Guide/Brochure/etc., the analytics stop with the download itself. You have no idea how much of it was actually read or if it was even read at all.

Not having the ability to know what content is actually absorbed by your intended audience is as bad as not having analytics on your blog. Hubspot’s Magdelena Georgieva says,

Business blogging without measuring results is a complete waste of time. (4)

She’s right. Knowing what information your potential customer is taking in is CRUCIAL to your inbound marketing strategy and ultimately, directly related to closing or not closing the deal.

By creating your content on an interactive platform, you actually have the ability to use analytics. For example, with Readz, you can track traffic flow and actions on your content, per source and even per device.

Inbound Marketing, Death Doesn’t Become You –

While I won’t declare that 2014 is “The Year of the Mobile,” I will urge you to take a critical look at every statistic around you and realize (hopefully) that mobile is not going away. Continuing to ignore this fact is only going to hurt you and your company’s bottom line in the end. Have enough awareness to recognize a sinking ship and, by all means, don’t stay on board and go down with it.

Tweet this: 80.3% say they will delete a message if it does not look good in their mobile inbox

Tweet this: Is the death of PDF on mobile taking down your inbound marketing strategy with it?

Tweet this: Not optimizing your content for mobile is like randomly closing your store once a week!

Tweet this: 65% of people open email on mobile first. Don’t lose them because your white paper isn’t responsive.

Tweet this: Dear PDF­, as an inbound marketing tool, you have one foot in the grave and the Grim Reaper is standing right behind you.




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Builder. Marketer. Technologist. CEO @Readz | The one-stop solution for brands to create interactive brand content for the web | organic foodie beerie | paleo | cyclist | Los Angeles