Generate Leads by Digitizing Printed Sales Collateral like a Pro

If you’re looking for more leads – and who isn’t – here’s a simple way to generate well-qualified leads quickly: Digitize your sales collateral and put it on your website.

Almost every business from a single-shingle freelancer to a Fortune 100 powerhouse creates printed and non-HTML sales materials, things like

  • Line Cards
  • Brochures
  • Case Studies
  • White Papers
  • Slide Presentations

Problems with print.When these sales items exist only in print or on somebody’s computer as a PowerPoint, their effectiveness is almost impossible to gauge. Brochures may never be read. Printed handouts of presentation slides usually gather dust a file folder. And even if someone takes action as a result of the collateral, today or ten weeks later, how do you track it?

Digitization to the Rescue

By setting up your sales collateral as web pages, PDF downloads, video formatted content, or embedded presentations within a web page, you immediately gain five gigantic advantages:

  1. Turn Information into Offers. Handing a customer a brochure is a gesture. Offering a visitor to your site a free brochure download is an offer. When someone hits the download button, he/she is expressing interest and taking the first step toward doing business or establishing a relationship. The door is open.
  2. Measure Content Effectiveness and Track Leads.While the impact of printed collateral is anybody’s guess, you can measure online content’s effectiveness with enormous precision by counting downloads, page views, time spent on the page, and a host of other meaningful metrics. Now, you can continuously improve sales content by tweaking content that isn’t performing and creating more of what is.
  3. Improve SEO and Generate Qualified Leads. By adding sales collateral to your site in HTML or video format, you can improve your search visibility for core products and services. Done properly, this new content will attract searches from people looking for the stuff you sell but don’t know who you are.
  4. Capture New Marketing Data. When people download collateral, you can capture a little information or a lot of information about the prospect – anything from an email address to their annual purchasing volume. How much information you capture depends a lot on the quality, importance, and scarcity of the information you deliver.
  5. Set Up New Sales Conversion Paths. When someone downloads a brochure, what if the brochure includes a link to a page on your website where he/she can get a more detailed white paper for $50? What if the white paper includes an offer for a free, 2-hour, no-strings attached consultation? This is merely an example, but if you can apply the idea and make each piece of content a connected series of action steps, you’ve turned literature that’s just sitting there into a sales machine.

Digitization Tips

Our Internet marketing agency in Chicago works with clients in industries as diverse as heat resistant leather gloves and mobile credit card processors. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way that may save you time and improve the quality of your digitization campaign.

Formatting Issues

Printed collateral should be formatted for the web rather than just slapped up on your site as is. Among the things that usually need attention:

  • Typography. Making literature readable on a computer monitor may require adjusting column width, using a different font, repositioning and resizing images, and reformatting text. To maximize the user experience of your content, it’s ideal to have a web designer tackle the job.
  • Design Elements. Logos and color schemes that work on paper don’t always translate into effective web pages.  Even adapting something as innocuous as a border can be problematic, so again, using a proficient web designer will maximize the visual appeal of your content.
  • Navigation and Text Links. One of the beauties of digitization is the ability to incorporate links into the content. Doing this usually involves adding navigational design elements to the header, footer and/or margins. This is worth doing on PDFs as well as regular site pages, because it’s a way to draw visitors deeper into your site.
  • SEO. Printed content probably gives no consideration to keywords. For web pages and video (video meta information in particular), keywords become crucial. Keyword optimization touches on formatting, because where keywords appear – for example, headlines and subheads – may have a big impact on the layout.

Strategic Issues

  • Requesting Customer Information. The less information you ask for when offering a free download, the more downloads you’ll get. I think companies err when they ask for five fields of information in order for someone to download a simple line card. A better route is to start by just asking for an email address, which is pretty common, and go from there. For extremely valuable content, you can ask for more. Whether you should is a question best left to your own judgment – and systematic testing.
  • Content Strategy. Consider your print-to-digital conversion holistically rather than just piece-by-piece. If you have several awesome case studies, what about adding a “case studies” section to your site and top line navigation? How you organize the information on your site goes a long way to determining whether visitors find it and the weight they give to it.
  • Conversion Optimization.  You may have noticed sites that display download links that are hard to find and look like design afterthoughts. Adept web marketers know that content is half the battle – and presentation is the other half. How you dress up your download offer in terms of where it appears on the site, the wording you use, the visual power of the design element, and several other factors, makes the difference whether a few people download your stuff, or a few thousand.


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Brad Shorr is Director of Content & Social Media for Straight North. His articles about content strategy, social media and SEO have appeared on many industry-leading blogs. He has agency, freelance, and in-house marketing experience.

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