Repurposing your print flyers is a digital dead end

By Anastasia Stefanova, AVB Marketing

Many retailers make the most of their promotional print flyers by turning them into PDFs to feature on their websites.

It’s a quick way of leveraging their in-store promotion online and showcasing offers to potential customers exploring the site. It’s also a great site addition for customers who are already actively shopping your website and are making plans to visit your store.

However, driving paid ad traffic to this PDF can be a potentially costly mistake! 

The thinking is that shoppers will see the flyer and then come into the store. But in actuality, we are just driving them back to Google to resume their shopping, adversely affecting any digital campaigns.

Let’s look at why sending users to a PDF from paid advertising can impact performance and the traffic that comes in the store.

Bringing Users to a Dead End

You want the number of clicks between your ad and purchase to be as minimal for a user as possible. However, we do want to give guests an action on the page they land on, so they can go further into the site to continue their shopping (i.e., “capturing” them).

But by directing your ads to a PDF flyer on your site, you are bringing users to a dead end in which:

  • They can’t click on anything in the PDF
  • We can’t see or track what they might be interested in
  • There’s no discernable call-to-action for the shopper
  • We can’t track any interactions on the page
  • Their most likely option is to click off the page and return to search.

Although this can work for brand awareness, we are not actually capturing that visitor in any way by bringing them to a static flyer from a paid ad! We can cross our fingers and hope the user goes to the search bar on the site, or moves to the catalog from the PDF. But by not providing direction directly on the page, we risk losing that customer rather than driving them into the physical store location.

With no further action needed, users see the flyer and, in a matter of seconds, click away from the page to resume their search on Google.

Google Thinks Your Ad is Irrelevant

With no actions being tracked on the page, Google assumes your ad is just not relevant to the user. This will impact how your ad gets served, who it gets served to and decrease your chances of being shown at all.

Google will not only evaluate the contents of your ad, but the quality of the page you are displaying to the user and your website overall. With nothing to track, Google can’t make the appropriate optimizations necessary to help your campaign succeed.

Campaign Metrics Become Skewed

When evaluating a campaign that goes to a PDF flyer, you might assume performance looks poor. Perhaps you didn’t get a lot of lift in-store from running this campaign. You may even see that the actual clicks, conversions and other performance metrics of the campaign yielded poor results as well. The initial reflex would be to blame whoever’s running the campaign, or to assume it’s an ineffective tactic and a waste of money, when in fact the campaign was doomed from the start by having an ineffective landing/destination page.

Ideal Paid Ads Destination Page

The landing page for your digital advertising should have several key attributes:

  • Be relevant to the ad copy (text) that is featured
  • Should direct users to an action
  • Users should find everything they need on the page to make a decision
  • It should feature keywords related to the search
  • Ideally, the page would be shoppable

Your catalog would be a great place to direct users to from your paid advertising. This means, however, that your catalog should be merchandised appropriately.

Prepping Your Website to Receive Paid Traffic

If you’re thinking of running a sale, make sure your catalog and website are ready to receive that paid traffic so you can get the best results for your investment. Plan sales events/promotional campaigns in advance! Here’s a checklist:

  • Do you have a homepage banner about this sale on the site?
  • Do you need/have product flags on the items featured in the sale?
  • Do you need a rule to filter certain products to a special catalog that are included in the sale/campaign?
  • Are there any products presently featured on the destination page that don’t belong there?
  • Are you already running a campaign that will overlap keywords with this new campaign?

Just like your physical location, your website also needs a strategy. Some in-store tactics may not translate well to how users shop online, or to the digital tactics you use to capture them. If you are driving users to a PDF flyer from your digital advertising, try swapping out this page for a relevant catalog page and watch performance improve over time.

By prepping your site for paid traffic and engaging the user on your website, you increase the likelihood that they will either purchase online or visit your store to see their online selections to in person. It’s an easy way to help your marketing dollars go further.

Small tweaks like this can have a big impact on your website’s overall performance. This is why no two digital campaigns from different providers are alike, even if their tactics are the same. And if you’re already running digital somewhere else, get a second pair of eyes on performance.

Anastasia Stefanova is director of marketing/home furnishings at AVB Marketing, the advertising, e-commerce and digital marketing arm of YSN publisher AVB BrandSource. Contact Ana at   

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