As a marketing agency born from D Magazine, we’ve long been fans of print media. It’s still a big part of what we do — but in a world of digital transformation, your content can only make it so far without an online counterpart.
Sure, a downloadable PDF may seem like an easy out for digitizing annual reports, custom publications, and promotional materials. But while this is better than nothing, you lose out on key elements like interactivity, mobile-friendliness, and SEO. Plus, Google indexes PDFs less often than HTML pages, meaning if information changes in the digitally published PDF, preexisting PDFs could become less discoverable by users.
We suggest ditching the quick fix and instead revamping your print-to-digital content in a way that’s engaging, user-friendly, and SEO-savvy. You’ve got options.
Our Favorite: Microsites
These subdomains are a good option for larger, self-contained projects within an organization; ones that may not have an obvious place within the company’s existing site. Here, the sky’s the limit with design, interactivity, and social features.
A good example is the 2017 Annual Report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Instead of housing the report in a PDF, they designed the report as a scrollable, navigable site with strong visuals, interactive features (like the sliding before-and-after photo), and clickable tabs that lead the user around the bulletin.
One downside is that building a microsite can be costly, but with endless options for customization, updates, and analytics access, the payoff is well worth it.
Another Option: Infographics
With the ability to consolidate dense information into easily digestible visuals, infographics work especially well for annual reports or data sheets. You also have the option to add engagement with animation. The rule of thumb with infographics is to make sure they aren’t text-heavy: Let the design and numbers do the talking.
Our client AmerisourceBergen, a wholesale pharmaceutical distributor, compacts reports into infographics on its website. This one, which focuses on barriers patients need to overcome to access and afford prescription drugs, uses sleek design and well-segmented sections to evenly break up otherwise complex and dense information. This option is still downloadable, but the strong visuals and readability make it much more engaging than a traditional text report-turned-PDF.
If You Must: Embedded Copies
Though not our first recommendation, this is still a popular method that’s worth noting. You can transform physical magazines or books into online copies through sites such as Issuu or FlippingBook. This method is great for brand awareness as those who may not have access to the physical publication can get a similar experience online. Advertisers also see a benefit, as ads can contain video or interactive content that links directly to their website or other online company resources.
Digital publications can also provide helpful metrics for your client: You can track clicks and lead readers to supplemental information to better understand their habits and interests and improve your retargeting campaigns for the future.
The downside is that embedded copies receive less visitors than microsites and infographics; aren’t as Google- or user-friendly; and lack mobile-user capabilities.
So when considering how you want to reformat your content for online publication, keep in mind that while digitizing a magazine or other piece of content can be simple, making valuable, high-ranking, sharable content is another option.
Good news: That’s our specialty. Contact us to learn more.
(Graphic by Garrett Davis, summer 2018 intern)