How to Track PDF Files and Why you Should

PDFs are outdated and lack quite some functionalities that are common on the internet. One of them is capturing data. Here’s how you can Track PDF files and why you should.

GlobalOwls individuals

We’ve already covered what we think the future of PDF will be and it’s not looking good.

The fact is… PDFs are outdated and lack a lot of functionalities we’re used to having in the online world.

Consumers can’t even check out a PDF file that is responsive on all devices or that is interactive.

Marketers can’t get the data they’re used to and can’t tell stories the way they want to because PDFs are not immersive.

In this article, we’ll dive into how you can get data for your PDF files and we also offer a PDF alternative.

How to track PDF files

PDF files in and of themselves don’t offer the option to gather data.

As a marketer, you will only know who downloaded your PDF (if your content offer is gated), but you will not be able to find out if the person actually opened your PDF, if the PDF got shared, how many pages the person has read, how long they have been browsing on a given page, etc.

If you want to get some of that data, you will need additional software.

Track PDF files with HubSpot

If you’re using HubSpot as your CRM, you’re in luck. With HubSpot, you can host your PDF on your HubSpot domain and under ‘sales tool’ -> ‘documents’ you can get additional data on your file. Here’s how document tracking with HubSpot works.

As you can see. It’s not perfect. It does not come near the PDF alternative we’ll be discussing in a bit.

pdf tracking with HubSpot

Track PDF files with additional software

A second option for getting some PDF data is to opt-in for additional software.

One example is Locklizard which promises to help you get data on PDF open, views, and even prints.

locklizard pdf tracking

Source: Locklizard

I’m sure there is more such software that offers to help. The big question is:

If PDF is an inferior format for marketers, would you like to invest more to try to upgrade it by a tiny bit or would you just choose a better format?

Say goodbye to PDFs and hello to alternatives

Let’s first take a broader look at PDFs again before diving into tracking capabilities.

You can stay loyal to PDFs and try to buy new software to get solve for all the incapabilities, but you would need deep pockets and a lot of time and effort to link all the tech solutions together.

Instead, why not opt in for an HTML5-based solution where you can create white papers, brochures, magazines, proposals, anything you could with a PDF, but better! More engaging, more immersive, more data, and faster because of the built-in templates.

Foleon (and competitors) offer such solutions. The reason they exist is to offer consumers an amazing web experience and marketers the tools they need to create them.

Now let’s dive back into data capturing. 

Foleon (and competitors) got you covered. They have data capture built into their software. Bye-bye vanity metrics and hello informed decisions.

By switching to a better format, you’ll be better equipped to retarget people based on real interest, hand MQLs and SQLs over to sales based on real engagement, and much more! You can even add mid-gates as an alternative to gated content offers and get data there.

PDF tracking with Foleon


PDFs don’t offer the possibility to track and gather data. If you still want to use PDFs and get some insights, there are additional software you could link to them. Our question is why bother trying to keep an outdated format alive while there are more attractive alternatives for modern marketers? You’ll solve the tracking problem, but you still won’t be able to easily create responsive PDFs, create immersive experiences, and much more.

We hope the options above give you some food for thought and wish you all the best in creating awesome content!


What is a PDF (Portable Document Format)?

A PDF, or Portable Document Format, is a file format developed by Adobe that preserves the layout and formatting of a document, making it ideal for sharing and printing.

How do I open a PDF file?

You can open a PDF file using various applications such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, web browsers, or third-party PDF readers available for different platforms.

Can I create a PDF file from other document formats?

Yes, you can create PDF files from various document formats by using PDF conversion software or built-in features in many applications.

What are the advantages of using PDF files for document sharing?

PDF files maintain document formatting across different devices and operating systems, ensuring consistent viewing and printing.

How can I edit a PDF file?

PDF files can be edited using specialized PDF editors like Adobe Acrobat Pro or online PDF editing tools, but some editing limitations may apply depending on the software.

Is it possible to password-protect a PDF file?

Yes, you can add password protection to a PDF file to restrict access, editing, or printing. Many PDF editing tools offer this feature.

Can I convert a PDF back into its original document format?

PDFs can be converted back to their original formats using PDF to Word converters or other conversion tools, but the accuracy of conversion may vary.

What are PDF annotations, and how can I add them to a PDF document?

PDF annotations are comments, highlights, or notes added to a PDF. Most PDF readers provide annotation tools for adding comments or markup to documents.

Are PDF files compatible with mobile devices and smartphones?

Yes, PDF files are compatible with mobile devices, and many mobile apps offer PDF viewing and editing capabilities.

Is there a difference between PDF and PDF/A formats?

Yes, PDF/A is a specific subset of PDF designed for long-term archiving of electronic documents, ensuring that content remains accessible and unchanged over time.

What are the common uses of PDF files in various industries?

PDF files are widely used for reports, contracts, manuals, brochures, forms, and documents across industries such as legal, healthcare, education, and publishing.

Can I merge multiple PDF files into one document?

Yes, you can merge multiple PDF files into a single document using PDF editing software or online PDF merger tools.

How can I reduce the file size of a large PDF document?

To reduce the file size of a PDF, you can use compression tools or adjust settings while saving the PDF to reduce image quality or remove unnecessary elements.

What is the difference between PDF and PDF/X formats, and when is PDF/X used?

PDF/X is a format specialized for printing, ensuring that a PDF is print-ready. It includes specific standards for color management and fonts, making it suitable for prepress workflows.

Are there accessibility standards for PDF documents to ensure they are usable by individuals with disabilities?

Yes, PDF documents can be made accessible by following standards like PDF/UA (Universal Accessibility), which ensures compatibility with screen readers and other assistive technologies.

How can I convert scanned images or paper documents into searchable PDFs?

You can use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to convert scanned images or paper documents into searchable and selectable text in a PDF.

Is it possible to digitally sign a PDF document?

Yes, you can digitally sign PDF documents using digital signature certificates or electronic signature services to verify the authenticity and integrity of the content.

What are the security features available for PDF documents?

PDF documents can be secured with password protection, encryption, and digital signatures to control access and ensure data integrity.

Can I embed multimedia elements like audio and video in a PDF document?

Yes, PDF documents can include multimedia elements like audio and video, making them interactive and suitable for presentations and e-books.

How do I convert a web page or webpage content into a PDF file?

You can convert a web page or its content into a PDF file using browser extensions or PDF conversion tools, allowing you to save web content for offline use or sharing.

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