Publishers originally embraced digital editions as an affordable,
efficient way to serve readers overseas. But delivering content and
managing subscriptions internationally requires publishers use a distinct
set of tactics, like delivery incentives, subscription cuts and increased
digital edition content, to bulk up their readership and save
money on postal costs internationally.
"For us, it’s been an
interesting journey over the past few years with the continued increase
of international postage rates," said Joanne Juda-Prainito, vice
president of circulation and audience development at M2MEDIA360. The
business-to-business company, which publishes 16 print titles with
circulations reaching over 350,000, uses vendor Digital Magazine Technology for its 16 digital
titles. They’ve taken a look at their titles and circulations, and chosen several markets
where international readership is important, said Juda-Prainito.
Mining Digital Readers
2006 we first tested the waters with a digital edition after members’ concerns that they were being charged a $58.00 postal
surcharge on delivery of our weekly newsmagazine, C&EN," said Elise
Swinehart, assistant director, marketing & exhibitions for The American Chemical Society’s C&EN
(Chemical & Engineering News).
Of the American Chemical
Society’s more than 154,000 members, 15 percent reside outside of the
U.S. in Europe and Asia, with readers of C&EN running the gamut of
scientists working for manufacturers, executive management and
university professors. "What we found in some surveys to our
international members was interest in receiving C&EN in a digital
format in exchange for dropping the $58.00 surcharge," Swinehart said. The $58, a
barrier to recruiting new international members, was impacting overall
membership. "So, we sent out an RFP and eventually chose Texterity in January of 2007. We rolled out a digital edition only available to
ACS members living outside North America," she added.
its first year with its international-only edition, C&EN saw 40 percent of
their international members transition from print to digital. While the
membership fees are the same on both a national and international basis,
dues range from around $44-$140 annually for either print or a print-replica in digital edition format, Swinehart said.
"There was a very low switch back to print by these international
members. In 2008, we then opened up the digital edition to U.S.
members," she added. While the uptake of these digital editions by
national subscribers was "much smaller," American Chemical Society was
able to transition "95 percent of the comp editions that we were
sending out to digital and have saved quite a bit of money in printing
and mailing print copies of C&EN to advertisers and potential
advertisers and others," Swinehart said.
Content, Subscription Incentives
The largest international
digital edition readership for M2MEDIA360, said Juda-Prainito, is in
Canada, UK, Singapore, China and Australia, which accounts for around 8
percent of the international readership. "We’ve always had
international readership on all of our publications," she said, "but it
was the postage increases from 3-5 years ago that pushed the company to
offer digital editions abroad to save on overall budget while
continuing to push out content."
But in order to get
international subscribers on board, the publisher opted to offer a
content incentive. "We wanted to push out additional content, and we’ve
found that there’s always lots of editorial, but never enough
advertising (these editions offer ads like banner manager, embedded
video and training video)," she said. "So
instead of printing a larger book, we decided to put this information
into the digital edition." Not only is this a bonus for
international readers, it’s helped with the reader transition from
print to digital.
the company may have added content, it’s decreased the price of its digital edition. Depending on the magazine, an annual international print
subscription runs anywhere from $72 to $125 internationally. M2MEDIA360
offers a hefty discount—50 percent—to get these subscribers to go
digital. "Not only do international subscribers receive the magazine a
week prior to the normal print edition, but it has cut down on customer
service time with readers calling in and saying that they hadn’t
received an issue," said Juda-Prainito. "For every 10 people abroad we sent an issue to, at least one wouldn’t receive it."
of M2MEDIA360’s print titles have associated digital edition
counterparts, said Juda-Prainito, with a similar reader profile in the
U.S. and abroad. "The focus outside of the U.S. is ‘how to deliver
publications." We have been trying to figure out better ways to reach
English-speaking countries because this way we can include more
information without having content translated."
To keep all of
these international subscribers straight, the b-to-b publisher enlists
the help of Skokie, Illinois-based Hallmark Data Systems, which
specifically codes this subscriber data allowing them to sort and pull
data, and "extract and target this readership for any reason," says
Juda-Prainito. In addition, M2MEDIA360 offers both digital and print
options on all of our subscription cards.
"We’ve been able to
grow international readers organically, but in 2010, we’ll be hitting this market hard," said