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PDF & Document Tracking: Track and See Who Viewed Your PDF Documents

January 11, 2022
Author
Inkit Team

Chances are, if you work with PDF documents, you have to send, manage, and track them daily.

Whether it’s converting PDF files, editing documents, or copying content to-and-from your files, there’s a lot of managerial work that goes behind organizing PDF files.

Though it may seem tedious to track day-to-day business PDF processes, it can be extremely useful for analyzing the overall efficiency and the bigger picture of your business. 

What makes tracking these tasks difficult is the lack of systems and processes to keep all PDF documentation organized. If you’re a business owner, you’ll benefit from having a document tracking system. 

And below, you’ll learn everything you need to know about PDF document tracking:

  • What Is PDF Document Tracking?
  • What Is A DMS: The Digital Filing Cabinet And How Does It Work?
  • Document Tracking VS. Document Management: What’s The Difference, Anyway?
  • Why You Need to Start Tracking PDF Documents In Your Work
  • PDF Document Management And Tracking Workflow Overview Example
  • PDF Document Tracking System Features to Look Out For
  • Top 5 Popular PDF Document Tracking Systems to Consider

Now, here’s how to get get started: 

What Is PDF Document Tracking? 

Document tracking is simply a way to monitor the status of your documents. 

The statuses may include the recipient receiving the document, when the document has been viewed, if the document still needs a signature, any edits, and so on.

The document tracking feature is often a part of a document management system (DMS). 

These systems are simply part of software that allow your business to digitally file, organize, monitor, and store documents. These documents are typically transactions and part of daily operations within the business. 

Let’s take a look at how DMS works in more detail and how it can help with PDF document tracking.

What Is A DMS: The Digital Filing Cabinet And How Does It Work?

Before the invention of the DMS, businesses often stored paper copies of these transactions. 

Previous methods of organization included physical filing cabinets, folders, charts, and more. 

With modern advances in technology, software companies have removed the need for most, if not all, of the older methods of document tracking. This way, many companies go paperless too!

With a document tracking system, you can now spend less time searching for the documents you are looking for. These systems often have a “search” feature, where you can search based on document name, tags, and more. 

In a nutshell, DMS has made it easier to access, edit, and manage your files electronically. 

But what’s the difference between document tracking and regular management?

Here’s what you need to know.

Document Tracking VS. Document Management: What’s The Difference, Anyway?

You’ll find that document tracking and document management are terms that are used interchangeably. While there are similar meanings, there is a difference between the two. 

Document tracking is a more specific feature within a document management system. Tracking is a more specialized focus on the statuses and analytics of a specific file.

A document management system is a software that focuses on a more wide range of features. These features may include collaboration, document sharing, transferring, and more. 

Why start tracking PDF documents

When your business invests in a document tracking system, you’ll find that your operations run smoothly and efficiently. There are many benefits of utilizing one of these systems such as: 

  • Documents are easily accessible.
  • Documents can typically be viewed on most devices.
  • Increased productivity.
  • Reduced paper use.
  • Easy audit trails.
  • Secure documents.
  • Reduced document storage space.
  • Improved team collaboration.
  • Can see who viewed or performed certain action on a PDF document. 
  • Helps with overall project management and status updates.

Why You Need to Start Tracking PDF Documents In Your Work 

Document tracking will not only allow you to save time, but it will also give you more data for analyzing. 

Document tracking within a business will allow you to see: 

  • Who opened the PDF document.
  • Where they stopped reading.
  • When they closed it.
  • If the file is lacking a signature.
  • And more.

While these features are helpful, even better tool is that some systems will allow you to track documents outside of your employees.

The most important reason any business needs to track documents outside of what is shared between employees is to know what is working. If you aren’t tracking all of your data, then you don’t know how to focus on what is working and how to adjust what isn’t. 

Most businesses track every aspect of marketing: social media, ad campaigns, website, blog, social media conversions, and more. The problem is, some businesses don’t create trackable documents such as PDFs, e-books, and other types of documents. 

If you create a document with a trackable link, then you can see when the target customer opened, scrolled, stopped reading, how long they were on the document, and more. 

This will give you an idea of where in your document improvements need to be made. This can be a great tool for things like email marketing! 

For example, if you see that a lead has not opened your PDF proposal, you’ll know that you should follow up.
If there’s a common trend of your leads not reading your PDF all the way, chances are, you’ll want to make it shooter!

Here is how PDF tracking can work in a workflow:

Out-of-the-box PDF generation
The easiest way to automatically generate and manage paperless documents at scale.
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PDF Document Management And Tracking Workflow Overview Example

Even though most documents used in a business are different and require different processes, you can typically narrow down a few workflows to streamline the process. 

Here is an example of a document management workflow: 

  1. Create Your Document

Once you determine the objective of the document, you can begin creating it. If the document is just shared via your DMS, then you should be able to see statuses automatically. If you are sharing via social media and want those insights, then you’ll need to create a trackable link. 

  1. Review & Approve 

Once you create your document, then you can upload it to your document management system

Here, you should be able to assign it to the person who would approve it. Once submitted to the system, you’re able to remove several lengthy emails and business days to get the document signed or approved. 

  1. Upload Final Copy

After you receive approval of the draft, you can upload the final copy to your system for storage and filing. Depending on the document, you can set up an automated process so that it will be saved to the correct location. 

In this stage, you will add tags to the document to make it easy to find in the search function of your system. 

  1. Publish & Share

After the document is finalized and stored in the correct place, it is ready for sharing. 

You can share internally with just the click of the button. If the document is needing to be shared externally (for example, in a marketing campaign,) you will need to publish it on social media or where it was determined beforehand. You can then use your analytics there for further review of if the document is performing well toward the desired goal. 

If publishing a PDF or e-book, you would create a trackable link to it before sharing on social media. With this link, if your target customer clicks on it, you’ll be able to review your analytics and see what is converting well or where they’re exiting the document. 

PDF Document Tracking System Features to Look Out For: 

Not sure which software to use to track your PDF documents? 

As with most items you can purchase, not all document tracking systems are created equal. 

Here are some features to look for when you’re purchasing your system: 

  • Private and secure: must comply with data privacy standards. 
  • Centralized storage: access your files in one location. 
  • Software simplicity: should be easy to use for all employees.
  • Mobile access: ability to use on any device.
  • Backups and recovery: if anything happens, you’ll still have file access.
  • Search options: locate the specific document you’re looking for with a quick search.
  • Version control: access saved modifications and originals.

Top 5 Popular PDF Document Tracking Systems to Consider 

In no specific order, here's a list of 5 popular PDF tracking tools you can use to manage your workflow:

Adobe Acrobat Sign

adobe acrobat sign landing page screenshot

Adobe Acrobat Sign is one portion of the Adobe software system. 

This software allows you to track electronic documents or PDFs that are sent through Acrobat Sign. With the system, you are able to get real-time notifications of when the documents are opened and signed. 

Some key features include: 

  • Real-time document status: no more chasing down your documents.
  • Ability to set up automatic email reminders and instant notifications for deadlines.
  • Password protected documents.
  • E-signature.
  • Status updates: see which documents have been sent, signed, or need to be signed.
  • Search for documents .
  • Available in the mobile app to take the software wherever you go.

Monday

monday pdf tracking management

Monday is a work operating system that combines workflow management with PDF document tracking to be an all-in-one project management tool for businesses. 

Features of this tool include: 

  • Project management.
  • Document management.
  • Software development.
  • Human resource records .
  • Workflow templates.
  • Automation setup.
  • And more

With Monday, you can upload, manage, track, and collaborate on your PDF documents in a quick and efficient manner. The software also allows you to integrate the documents (and your workflow) into one place for ease of access. 

FileHold Cloud

filehold pdf tool screenshot

FileHold Cloud is a great option for small businesses. The system offers several pricing plans in an affordable range with options to upgrade as your company grows. FileHold is designed for small companies without access to IT resources.

PandaDoc

pandadoc pdf workflow tracking tool

PandaDoc is another popular PDF document workflow system. This system is primarily used for document signing and legal document management. This system is great for sending contracts and proposals. Features for document editing include: 

  • E-signature.
  • Custom fields.
  • Document creation.
  • Engagement tracking.
  • Approval workflow management.
  • API: use PandaDoc features on your website.

Dokmee DMS

dokmee pdf system tool screenshot

Dokmee DMS is another secure PDF document tracking and management system. This system is designed to capture, store, and organize your documents. Dokmee is available in nineteen different languages and is adaptable for any business model. 

Some features include: 

  • Security.
  • Organization and retention.
  • File sharing and collaboration.
  • Workflow organization.
  • Available cloud storage .
  • File level user restrictions.
  • Version control.
  • Active Directory integration.
  • And more.

Conclusion

To recap, if you’re working with PDF documents daily, then a document tracking system might be of huge help.

You’ll find that the features allowing your workflow to operate smoothly will increase your employee productivity. If your software has a trackable link feature, then the analytics will be beneficial for marketing as well. Alternatively, if you’re doing lead generation and you’re working with clients regularly, being able to track, manage, and see see how much of your PDF documents they’ve read can be incredibly useful.

Need more info on tracking, managing, or converting PDF files?

Be sure to also read:

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The easiest way to automatically generate and manage paperless documents at scale.
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