Marketing Micro Tactics – Thoughtful Filenames Of Offers

May 12, 2010 at 10:44 pm 4 comments

Marketers, we must sweat the details…sometimes the small stuff has significant value.  I know it may seem like an unrealistic statement in these days of multiple, conflicting priorities and limited resources, but our marketing efforts are often the first point of engagement with prospective customers.  So how detailed?  I believe there are a set of marketing micro-tactics that easily get overlooked in bustle of our daily activities.

Marketing Must Sweat the Details

In this particular post, I am talking about the filenames that we choose for our online resources (e.g. whitepapers, webcasts, etc.).

What’s In A (File)Name

Currently, a popular marketing tactic is to provide prospects with an offer for ‘premium content’ in exchange for their contact information.  Especially popular in B2B marketing, marketers are engaging prospects through value-added content in the form of case studies, relevant resources, and free tools.  Commonly, these pieces of premium content are delivered to prospects as downloads that they can save to their local computers.

We usually do so much work to create these pieces of premium content – content creation, design, proof reading, development, lead capture and management – that we overlook the filename we are giving to these documents that will be download by our target audiences.

Rather than thoughtfully name these files, they are often an assemblage of someone’s first stab at a filename combined with inline versioning identifiers.  The example below is a whitepaper from SuccessFactors detailing how to maximize your human resources to improve execution.  The filename itself is not clear on who or what.

SuccessFactors Whitepaper Filename

Why Are Filenames Important?

Your piece of premium content often is the beginning of an engagement with a prospect ; each point of contact is an opportunity to positively represent your brand.  Many times a user will not choose to rename a filename when they download and save your content.  A thoughtful, clear filename is a strong representation of your brand.

Even marketing experts – like MarketingProfs (below) – struggle with the small details.

Viral Distribution
I’m sure you have a compelling piece of content that a prospect will be compelled to share with others.  Usually, we forward on pieces of content to our colleagues/network as an email attachment (even a type of file share).  I doing so, the filename will help to form a first impression with that new.

Continued Reference
Premium content has the potential to live long after a prospect has filled out a form and left our website.  It is highly likely that prospects will reference your material sometime after their initial download.  This is especially true in the elongated buying cycles in many B2B sales engagements.  Consequently, your filename can be import for easy recollection and search.

A Process For Thoughtfully Naming Files

I believe that while it is valuable to have conciseness in filenames, we can capture the spirit of that concept while including the components below:

Personal or Brand Identification

Start by identifying yourself or your organization; qualifying the material and with whom the prospect chose to engage.  I think it is okay to use meaningful abbreviations when a full name may be too long (e.g. ‘WebEx’ instead of ‘Cisco-WebEx’ or ‘Hewitt’ instead of ‘Chris-Hewitt’).

I recent came across the following example after reading Tony Jeary‘s Life Is a Series of Presentations.  Here we have an example of a great resource – downloaded from Tony’s website – but the filename does not accurately reflect his personal brand.

Clear Subject

Often suggest that this should be different than the title of the piece of premium content.  The titles for our case studies, whitepapers, webinars, etc. are often thoughtfully crafted to attract the attention of our target audiences.  At this point, however, someone has been appropriately engaged and is downloading our content…we’re past the opening lines.  I find it best to quickly summarize the subject of the material.

In the example below, ‘Social-Media-Improving-Customer-Service’ would be a meaningful yet more digestible component of the filename.

Contact Method

We can take this opportunity to include some contact information, especially social media channels, in our filename.  While it may not work in all circumstances, I believe this is especially important for individuals in their personal branding efforts.  For example, you can easily include your Twitter handle in the filename (thanks to azbado for the technical QA).

The example below highlights one of my social media resources I provide on my website.  As I know that my audience for this material is interested in social media, I take the opportunity to include my twitter ID (shown in a ‘viral’ email attachment context – click for larger image).

Creating Thoughtful Filenames For Marketing Materials

We Already Care About Many Filenames
The concept of thoughtful filenames isn’t, conceptually, a foreign concept for us as marketers.  We carefully consider the filenames for our ‘Internet indexed’ materials like webpages and images.  We just need to carry this concept into our other distributed materials and make each character of a filename count.

As the next piece of premium content passes your desk, give a little more love to its filename.


Entry filed under: Marketing Operations, Personal Brand.

Forget the Experts, Let the Musical Group TLC Teach You About Social Media The Social Presentation – It’s great that you’re embracing social media but are you really listening?

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kate D.  |  May 14, 2010 at 6:28 am

    I see this a lot with other recent grads or current students and their resumes. Working at the Phoenix Comicon and helping my friends write resumes, I can’t say how many times the file sent to me was “Resume.doc.” At the very least “Name Resume.doc” would be better. And from now on, I think I will include my Twitter in mine. Thank you, Chris!

    • 2. Chris Hewitt  |  May 17, 2010 at 9:10 am

      Thanks for the comment Kate, great insight. You’re absolutely right and resumes are a terrific example of applying the spirit of the concept.

      A resume is a direct reflection on your personal brand; a filename of ‘Resume.doc’ certainly doesn’t brand yourself nor does it practically or perceptually differentiate yourself from the competition.

  • 3. Simon Daniels  |  May 18, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Chris, I couldn’t agree more, it’s long been a source of amazement to me that download file names are so unintelligible! It seems to be a lack of attention to detail combined with a lack of interest in the impression being given. I’m glad to find it’s not just me that thinks so!

    • 4. Chris Hewitt  |  May 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm

      Thanks for the read and comment Simon.

      To your point about lack of interest, I’ve been receiving quite a few ‘offline’ comments that filenames are just something we tend to think about as marketers. In fact, quite a few colleagues have mentioned that they incorrectly assumed that no one would even see the filenames.


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