Tips and best practices

How to create interactive PDFs and ebooks

How do interactive PDFs and eBooks work?

Interactive content is quickly turning into the new norm.
And, yet, many still haven’t taken full advantage of the power of interactive PDF and eBook features… features that can elevate your written content to another level.
But there’s more than just incredible interactive video and image tech out there. Interactive PDF and eBook features are both simple to implement and incredibly effective for improving engagement in written-form content.
Interactivity is still in its early stages of adoption, so for many brands, it’s unfamiliar territory.
However, despite this, there have been huge developments in interactive content technology within a very short period of time, including everything from:
  • Clickable hotspots
  • Tags
  • Quizzes
  • Sliders
  • Information bubbles
  • Audio clips
  • Maps
  • Branching
  • Lead generation elements
  • Cross-media use (putting interactive videos into PDFs and lookBooks)
Spott recently did a major upgrade allowing all its users to use pre-defined templates to easily apply all of the above.
In this article on the November update, you get a detailed overview of all these pre-defined templates. 

Why should you be making your content interactive as of today

Because interactive features improve engagement, one of the most valuable metrics to influence in any kind of content.
But that’s not all.
Interactive content also converts better than traditional static content.
Don’t believe me?
Multiple studies have confirmed that including this one from Demand Metric where 70% of users reported that interactive content converts “Moderately well” or “Very well” compared to just 36% for static content.
At this point, you might be thinking one of two things:
  • These numbers look and sound great, but what exactly do interactive features look like in PDFs and eBooks?, Or…
  • How am I supposed to add these effects in my PDFs and eBooks without hiring a developer and spending hours in development?
Fortunately, there are simple and easy answers to both of those questions.
Let’s look at some examples.

1. Pace – Embedded video

Some of the best interactive features you can add to PDFs and eBooks are simple and straightforward but can go a long way toward improving engagement.
Here’s an example of a simple interactive feature: embedded video.
Check out how much more engaging this interactive PDF becomes when you can embed videos anywhere on the page that doesn’t take you off the page with this example from digital marketing agency Pace:
Pretty neat, huh?
It’s a deceptively simple addition that adds a wealth of additional value from a simple PDF.
Add a few videos to your interactive PDF and watch as that one piece of content can keep a lead engaged two-to-three (or more) times as long.

2. Pardot – Clickable elements

This example from Pardot is super clean and easy to navigate, partly thanks to its snazzy clickable navigation.
Several other elements such as animations add to that to create a smooth and pleasant reading experience, with the interactive elements being more functional than anything.
But that’s the perfect play, given the type of content it is. After all, interactive elements can add content, immersion, improve readability and navigation, and all kinds of things.
The question you need to ask yourself is what you want to accomplish with interactivity, then search for the features that allow you to accomplish that.

3. ZEB – direct purchases 

ZEB is a fashion retailer allowing its fans to not just purchase clothing items, but acquire a style. They have started making all their inspirational images and videos interactive.
As they also have pdfs, they have transformed their pdf from a static element put somewhere in the corner of their website, into one of the most important sales funnels on their homepage using interactivity.
By allowing users to directly send products to the basket without passing by the product detail page, they have been able to achieve an 88% interaction rate and 7,82% of visitors added at least 1 product to the basket.

4. CASA – use of iFrames

Casa allows you to uplift the cosiness of your house with their home decor products.
Sales for them is allowing visitors to better visualize how those elements would look like at home and at that moment allow an as seamless conversion as possible.
Next to allowing direct purchasing, they use iFrames to offer more inspiration about the presented products to further fuel those purchases.

Interactive PDFs and eBooks are effective – and couldn’t be easier

The idea of creating an interactive PDF or eBook sounds like a headache, but great platforms make this the easy part.

The real work is in figuring out what your goal is with the written content you’re deploying and what those interactive elements can do to move you closer to it. 

Whatever platform you use and whatever interactive elements you implement, we hope this guide helped you add another useful (and effective) tool to your content marketing toolbelt.


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Every week, we reserve time for clients and prospects to better understand how interactivity works best for them.

Michel De Wachter

Co-Founder Spott

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