The uncharted territory associated with marketing digital editions can be daunting. So much so that, for some publishers, their digital edition “marketing plan” is defined by a series of trials and errors.

While this experimentation is normal in a relatively new space, with the limited time and resources that many publishers are working with, having a plan is key, making it vital to develop and execute a marketing timeline. Here, a few publishers tell what’s in their marketing mix for digital editions.

E-mail Campaigns

While e-mail marketing is certainly not revolutionary, it can be a good first step to let readers know what your digital edition has to offer, and how it can benefit them. Gary Esposito, associate publisher of Lebhar-Friedman, Inc.’s Chain Store Age, the news magazine for retail executives, launched its first digital edition with Texterity this past June. While he said that the magazine is just “putting it out there” with regards to its digital edition, they did whet readers’ appetite with an e-mail campaign.

Prior to its June 2009 digital edition, which corresponded with the print issue, Chain Store Age sent a pure e-mail blast alerting readers that digital edition was coming soon. “It was basically a creative marketing piece,” said Esposito. “We also had some house ads for it to create a bit of buzz.” The second blast, sent out a handful of times after the launch of the digital edition, included the digital edition. While housing the digital edition on the Web page is a good tactic, sending it out in an e-mail makes it both quickly accessible and visible for readers who may not frequent your site. While Esposito wouldn’t cite numbers this early in their marketing, he said the digital edition has “received a good response” from readers.

Ode, a magazine highlighting positive social, environmental and economic change, launched its digital edition with vendor Zinio in late 2007. The title has promoted its digital edition on their site, and also as a stand-alone email marketing effort to both new and renewal, domestic and international subscribers. “We have also offered our partner promotions the choice of either a print or digital edition of Ode,” said vice president of consumer marketing June Sargent.

Delivery Proposition
Chain Store Age has a digital edition revenue model based on sponsorships, so it comes at no cost for qualified subscribers. “Part of the overall digital strategy and allow our readers to access our content in ways that make the most sense for them,” said Esposito. However, $119 is the going rate for non-qualified subscribers receiving the print edition, and international readers receiving print or digital. While the subscription price may be substantial, the value for international subscribers is twofold: they receive the issue in a timely fashion, and have it digitally to reference in the future.

Nationally, Ode charges “for the digital edition—the same price as the print edition,” said Sargent. “But the digital edition is a less expensive and more efficient option for our international subscribers,” she added. It not only arrives in a timely manner, but costs over 50 percent less for this international readership, she said. “The digital edition arrives before the printed edition in your inbox, and all ads have live links to the advertisers Web sites, which results in easier access to information for the reader.” Besides the convenience, Ode readers respond to the digital editions as helping to offset their carbon footprint, as well as the convenience to store and keep the digital edition to reference on a regular basis.

Social Networking

While some, like Esposito, said that social networking isn’t part of the marketing plan, others like Ode’s Sargent consider it an important component. Ode has and continues to “tweet about our digital edition and post offers on Facebook and other social networking sites, as well,” said Sargent. While she wouldn’t give an exact number on its increased digital circ, Sargent said that Ode has “increased our digital subscribers 10 fold over the last six months, and our goal is to grow the digital edition aggressively over the next six to twelve months.”