The rise of interactive PDFs and how they can benefit your business

Interactive PDFs

Louise Stevens

Client Services and Operations Director

Posted on July 15, 2015

Interactive PDFs are such an increasingly useful and versatile tool that are well worth giving some serious consideration time. Although hardly a new idea, competing software and growing expertise as professionals learn how to stretch their capabilities are changing PDFs use and their potential.

And the technology is moving quickly. What’s possible with a PDF format is different from even a year or two ago.

Two manifestations of PDF have emerged strongest. The first is the publically published digital ‘turning page’ PDFs that allow traditional publishers to bring magazine-reading experience to a digital device. This is something we explored recently in our discussion of FutureFolio and Adobe technology in digital publishing.

But it’s the second type – editable and interactive PDFs – where it really gets interesting for the financial sector. Here we find PDF use that’s transforming financial brands’ communication, marketing, sales presentations and data collection.

Beyond paper: what PDFs let you do

The introduction of engaging, user-friendly, secure and paper-free ways to conduct business has changed the very backbone of the financial industry, and very much for the better.

Application forms, feedback forms, and data forms can now be sent digitally via editable, branded PDFs – downloadable, accessible, and easy to send securely through encrypted channels. Unlike plain Word documents, fields can be set and fixed by the artworker to keep users task-focused, and content protected from an accidental elbow to the delete button or confused respondent.

Incorporating auto sums and invisible formulas allow useful data functionality, such as automatically adding VAT to figures entered, and step-by-step fields guide users through complex data entry. Adobe’s ‘E-sign’ is even beginning to do away with the need for paper versions at all, creating the ability to sign a document online before submitting it.

But PDFs aren’t just enabling practical functionality; they’re offering more and more creative ways to deliver content too, as illustrated by this PDF product guide by Santander.

Truly interactive PDFs are beginning to look more like little micro-websites than documents, allowing for embeddable video, quick-links, user navigation and even simple animated features like page-turning. Quick and relatively simple to create, this offers an extraordinarily cost-efficient yet impressive way to communicate information when there isn’t a need to create a full website, or when deadlines are especially tight.

Are you using PDFs to their full potential? Here are six ways we think you should be using PDFs to your advantage:

1. To increase your response rate

Interactive and editable PDFs make application and feedback processes quicker, simpler, and – let’s face it – more fun. We’ve found that clients using editable PDFs have an 18% increase on applications submitted versus a paper form.

2. To save everyone’s time

By taking out as much of the hassle as possible, PDFs provide a way of ensuring you’re offering good customer service to your clients and helpful support to your staff. Data tools mean there’s no need to sit for hours with a calculator, navigation within PDFs mean that relevant content is easy to find, quickly, and the ability to save to any device, view and complete offline opens up flexible opportunities to get tasks done anywhere.

3. To send a consistent message

By creating interactive sales presentations, marketing pitches or information microsites in interactive PDF-form, you’re arming your team with a tool to deliver brand-focused messages wherever they are.  Accessible on laptops, smartphones, and tablets, online and offline – they’ll always have something impressive at their fingertips. And because PDF viewing doesn’t rely on a browser or an OS, there’s never a worry about cross-platform variability: it will look good wherever you display it.

4. To create content that leads to action

Because you can be more creative with your content, interactive PDFs allow you to speak to your audience in a way that’s more compelling, focused and effective. With the ability to better incorporate action – watching a video, submitting details or clicking a link – content can be steered to achieve something quickly, rather than fall foul of being lost at the bottom of an overflowing in-tray.

5. To cut your carbon footprint

It’s a no-brainer, but it’s worth a reminder. Cutting down on paper and paper waste is a great way to reduce your business’s impact on the environment.

6. To get more from your marketing budget

PDFs are cheap to produce and relatively simple and quick to design. Making use of the right digital agency to equip you with well-designed templates means that content can easily be tweaked and reused. What’s more, PDFs’ ability to function as impressive microsites can save you a considerable chunk of budget while allowing you to be responsive to opportunities to engage with audiences and launch new products quickly.

Talisman are a digital marketing agency that make financial marketing simpler. We know our digital tech and your audience, and we can bring both together. If you’d like to explore the capabilities of PDFs to enhance your brand, we’d love for you to come and have a chat with us.