Step aside PDF: your time is up

Kill the PDF


“There are so many things wrong with the PDF as a digital comms format in the year 2019, we’re actually pretty embarrassed for those out there still using it.” says the founder of Turtl.

If you could influence and have a measurable impact on how people engage with the content you create, would you give it a go? If you could guarantee your readers a better experience – one that was more visual, more enjoyable, more fun, more engaging and more memorable, would you want to know how? We chatted to a man on a mission…

While working on a research management project at the University of Oxford, Nick Mason, CEO and founder of Turtl, who has a background in software engineering and programming, found himself spending time with a couple of super brainy psychology researchers and he started looking into the psychology of how we receive, process and store information that we read. And it got Nick thinking…here was an opportunity to upset the status quo by creating a business product that took advantage of this science; but would it benefit customers? He answered his own question: Turtl.  

Nick explains: “In the age of content marketing and the fact that more and more content was being created, I started to question the way businesses were choosing to present their ideas – be that reports, newsletters, proposals, thought leadership papers and the like. The digitisation of content marketing has seen the discipline boom but not evolve. Beautifully designed PDFs were (and are) the norm but from a digital marketing perspective they don’t cut it.”

Turtl_Nick Mason
Nick Mason

Nick saw the PDF as an easy target and wanted to create a tool that provided a much more sophisticated and interactive alternative to the PDF that also allowed you to track the analytics of how people engaged with that content. It’s not so much influencing what people read but more about observing their behaviour and then using that insight to improve content to make sure you’re serving up content to them that they want to read.

“PDFs just don’t work well on screens of any size. They are essentially a print medium and designed as such,” he continues. “The endless zooming, scrolling and pinching required to read a PDF on mobile or even desktop negates any sense of engagement with its content.  If you then add to this the fact that digital marketing needs more granular analytics than click-through rates, download counts and dwell times to get a real picture of reader engagement, the argument against using PDFs takes shape.”

What is Turtl?

Turtl is cloud-based software based on the science of reading. It provides users with the opportunity to easily build beautiful and fully interactive content pieces. Turtl also allows you to clearly see which parts of your content are performing the best with its built-in analytics feature. With this data, you can then go on to produce content that you know your readers will enjoy. In many ways it recreates the magazine style of reading that I love. With Turtl, Nick and his colleagues are encouraging us as readers to slow down and enjoy the reading experience again; to try a recreate our offline reading experience by limiting distractions and increasing our focus. Turtl integrates with a royalty-free image library, as well as leading providers of video, charts and polls which keep the reader within the main piece of content: it’s clever and it works.

As one of its reviewers on Capterra says, “The ability to quickly create content without the need for graphic design expertise, coupled with in-depth, individualised analytics makes Turtl a game changer for all businesses” and there are some impressive businesses on their client list including Cisco, The Economist, Baker McKenzie and Allianz.

Internal Comms evangelists

While Turtl has many uses, it is ideal for Internal Comms and as Nick says, “Internal Comms have been successful evangelists for the product! They can send out great-looking content that gets noticed. Others in the business then ask how they created it and want to do it too. This is how Cisco have become one of our biggest users. Under pressure to cut costs of agencies and produce more content more quickly, Faith Wheller, Director of Segment, Brand and Advocacy Marketing EMEAR, approached us. Cisco is a very data-driven organisation and fortunately Turtl ticked that box. They signed up in early 2018 with 25 users. After a 6-month trial they had saved £200k! Results like that didn’t stay quiet for long and now, eighteen months on, they have 160 users in 24 teams across 12 countries using the product for all sorts of things from sales playbooks, to all staff updates, to thought leadership and more.”

Business case

The use cases for Turtl are many and varied and evidence is building to suggest that it produces game-changing results as demonstrated in the impressive case studies.

An enterprise package gives access to multiple users (content creators) and the freedom to publish unlimited pieces of content. Anyone can receive, read and interact with Turtl stories, and no reader volume fees are applied. Against the punitive costs of design agency fees together with the time saved and the empowerment of your own teams, it’s definitely something worth a closer look.

Turtl is currently being used by a host of  international customers, with c40% of revenue currently coming from the US. They score consistently highly on customer care offering an innovative and personal service.

Nick has a final word: “We are doing something much more than jazzing up an existing format. With Turtl we can help customers tailor content at scale and using increased psychographics we are looking at hyper-personalisation. Even in the highly commoditised O365 market we have something that adds value to our clients and their customers.”

For starters, if anyone reading this needs to produce long form content, think Turtl not PDF!

And to help you and your team kill the PDF, Turtl are giving away a one-year enterprise license to Turtl (worth over £30,000). By filling in this form you will be automatically entered into a free prize draw to win it. Entries close 30th September 2019.


Guest Post by Alison Boothby