5 Ways to Make Great Online Brochures (and update your print assets!)

Created by Camille Winer


Keeping your print brochure alive is crucial for traditional, offline marketing interactions—it's great to be able to show off your brand by sharing fantastic marketing collateral via direct mail or as leave‑behind materials for leads to review at their convenience. But is it wrong to focus resources on print when it's your online marketing that gets a proven return on investment?

Print versus web is a false dichotomy

Instead of crossing “brochure” off your marketing plan, consider ways you can utilize this medium to augment your online presence and generate more quality leads for your nonprofit. Updating existing brochures reminds you to update your message, possibly even your branding, so that your physical marketing materials match the look, messaging, and mission statement on your website.

So how can you get two valuable marketing assets for the investment of one? By converting your print brochure into a powerful online marketing resource. This type of marketing collateral is especially effective for converting leads who are evaluating your ability to provide solutions to their challenges or needs.

Benefits of Online Brochures

  • Time saved on marketing collateral. Once you have a stellar print brochure design, it is quick and easy to double its potential with an online version.
  • Return on investment. Use analytics to track how many viewers become customers.
  • Cost savings on distribution. There’s no need to print and mail a stack of brochures!
  • Ease of access. Your ideal customers can view your brochure from their devices no matter where they are.
  • Opportunities for engagement. Add links to social sharing, newsletter sign-ups, and cross-links to other areas of your website.
  • Environmentally friendly. Online brochures take up no space and have less impact on the environment.

5 Ways to Make an Online Brochure

Here are five ways to take your printed brochure into the digital realm of nonprofit content marketing.

  1. PDF
    Creating a PDF of your brochure is the simplest route, but don’t just create a two‑page document of your tri‑fold. Instead, create a separate page for each panel so it reads like a book.
  2. Canva
    Canva is a good way to generate digital graphics without a lot of hassle. Your Canva brochure can even be shared straight to social media or exported as a high‑resolution PDF (though we still use professional design software for print).
  3. Web booklet
    Want to take your PDF a step further? Visit Simplebooklet.com, sign up for free, and turn your PDF pages into an optimized booklet with social share links, contact info, a map, and more. They’ll give you an embed code to use on your website or across social media channels. 
  4. Slideshow
    Use your brochure as a springboard to create slides that have the same look and feel as your brochure—without being as content‑heavy. Since your slideshow will likely autoplay and loop, you don’t want to bombard your visitors with too much information in too little time. No need to limit yourself to six slides (the panels of your brochure), but try to stay under 20.
    Upload your images to your content management system and use available modules to host the slideshow directly on your website. Or use PowerPoint or Google Slides, upload it to Slideshare.net, and share it anywhere.
  5. Video
    Turning your brochure into a video is a great way to get exposure on your website and social media, including YouTube. Start by creating slides (or images) of your brochure. Then select your software. PowerPoint, for example, allows users to set timers and transitions for each slide and save the presentation as a .mov file, which can be uploaded to YouTube and embedded across platforms.

Wait, what about print?

It’s common for the process of creating an online brochure to make you realize that your print materials could also use a facelift. Don’t let your new, shiny online resource keep you from giving your printed materials—from brochures to custom business cards—some much‑needed TLC! 

Though more and more business takes place online, there are still times when physical marketing collateral is essential. You’ll want to update and align your printed materials with your new online brochure. 

Aligned print brochures round out your marketing strategy in a few key ways:

  • Brochures reflect long‑haul investment. If an organization has devoted resources to creating a killer brochure, you know they’re committed—they’re not going anywhere.
  • Physical information stands out. From direct mail to trade shows, conferences, fundraisers, and networking events, there are many great opportunities to share a physical copy of the information about your organization.
  • Brochures can unify your message. You may not have set out to create an online brochure and update your in‑print messages, and it may feel like a hassle, but it’s actually an opportunity. Out of this process springs a wealth of ideas to streamline the messages to your audience. 
  • In the digital world, tactile is meaningful. Remember the texture of your first box of letterhead? Ever been handed a scratch‑and‑sniff or a fruit‑shaped business card? Humans will never lose an appreciation for physical objects. You have an opportunity to engage your customers’ senses even as technology careens ahead on‑screen.

Converting your print brochure to an online format (or vice versa!) doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. You’ve already got the content, the look, and the feel—all you need is a new delivery method.

Remember, print and digital marketing resources are both tools in your branding arsenal. So, go forth and market!