Content marketers should incorporate PDFs into their campaigns, but they shouldn't rely on the files too heavily.

Brands engaging in content marketing look to broaden their outreach efforts by distributing a wide array of media. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute notes that B2C marketers often use an average of 12 tactics to reach their audiences with targeted content.

Tactics Used by MarketersFor creatives looking to bring new angles into their content creation programs, there are several emerging types of media that beg for attention, and video, infographic marketing and even PDFs bring new skill sets to the drawing board.

PDFs: What can they do?
A recent report from PR Newswire evaluated press releases published to the web that include downloadable files like PDFs. The study’s results showed that releases with downloadable content saw engagement increase by 9.7 times over text-only content. Give readers something to take away with them, and they’re more likely to respond.

This data complements information released from Google, which reports that it has indexed more than 1.3 billion PDFs in 2012 – almost six times more than in 2011. But PDFs have their limitations, and overlooking those flaws and heavily incorporating the files into marketing programs could prevent widespread engagement, so marketers must learn how to use the medium appropriately.

How to handle PDF limitations
Social Media Minutes TotalThe main problem with PDF files is they don’t incorporate much of the interactive capabilities that static web content is able to leverage through the internet. Media such as video, social features and mobile distribution prevent PDFs from reaching wider audiences and providing a well-rounded user experience.

Cisco projects internet video traffic to increase from 16.8k petabytes per month in 2012 to 45.2k petabytes in 2016. Consumers will view a lot of video, and since PDFs can’t host internet-streaming content, the files may be pushed aside. More, social media integration and mobile usage have erupted, with Nielsen reporting that U.S. consumers are spending more time on social media sites, specifically via their mobile devices.

The PR Newswire report shows data in direct contrast with information from Cisco and Nielsen, so which points should marketers trust? Well, perhaps a little of both. The number one draw to using PDF files is in-depth analytics. Marketers who publish custom website content that includes video, infographics and PDFs reach wider audiences, as consumers enjoy visual media, but professionals can also note how engaged readers actually were. Creating branded content that records video content viewership rates, infographic share rates and consistent PDF downloads helps marketers gain invaluable insight into their leads’ internet activities and educates future marketing campaigns.

Ted Karczewski is an Executive Communications Associate at Brafton. He works to develop his own voice and apply his passions to the evolving world of SEO and content marketing, but he doesn't shy away from writing for fun. After graduating from Suffolk University, Ted used his Communications degree to test out Sports Journalism before Marketing at Brafton.