Revamping Digital Editions for Growth
Two b-to-b publishers discuss their approach.
Even today, many publishers turn to digital editions simply as a straight replica of the print product.
But at a recent Folio: Webinar, âState of the Art in Digital Magazines,â two b-to-b publishers shared how they have refigured their digital edition strategies to make them a key part of the editorial, sales and audience development missions.
Uptime Magazine started offering digital editions in 2006 through its printer. At the time, Uptimeâs Web presence was limited (and overshadowed by its ReliabilityWeb.com sister site), and digital editions were a good way to expand its online presence. However, Uptime stopped that digital edition in late 2007 due to low adoption and no revenue model. âWhat we failed to do was have a business model around the digital edition,â says Terry OâHanlon, publisher of Uptime Magazine and Reliabilityweb.com. âIt was a barebones vanilla platform. We werenât able to provide metrics to advertisers or ourselves.â
In 2008, Uptime teamed with Nxtbook Media and re-launched its digital edition strategy, which today includes 23,000 digital-only subscribers and 60 percent of its annual advertising contracts extending to the digital edition. Average reader visits are eight minutes long, with 20 out of 60 pages viewed and 17 percent of visitors clicking on ads, according to OâHanlon. Â
Much of the turnaround can be credited to an aggressive push strategy. Uptime has several e-mail publications and includes links to the digital editions in all emails (sometimes featuring the TOC of the digital edition with a direct link). âTraffic doesnât happen by accident,â says OâHanlon. âFifty percent of our visitors come through Google or direct links, but 50 percent also come from e-mail pushes. You canât simply publish the magazine, link to a Web site and think youâll get traffic.â
More recently, Uptime has started routing the primary Web site domain to the digital edition as a starting page. âWe did that to demonstrate our commitment to the digital edition to advertisers and because readers find it easier to route them to the current issue,â says OâHanlon. âYou can e-mail us and bookmark pagesâthere is little you can do on a Web site that you canât also do from inside the digital edition.â
Edgell Communications began testing digital editions for Consumer Goods Technology in 2007, and in 2008 and 2009, replaced four issues of the print magazine with digital issues.
While Edgell, which works with Texterity, isnât replacing Web sites with the digital edition, vice president of online media Rob Keenan agrees with OâHanlon on the importance of marketing digital products. âAs an industry we spend a lot of time talking about how good our publications are but we donât spend time developing a solid marketing strategy around them,â he says. âFigure out what your e-mail marketing techniques are and use content as a driver. One of the mistakes publishers make on the push side is to say, âCome look at the cover of our digital edition.â Thatâs nice, but itâs a sample of the content that really drives them.â
Optimizing the Digital Format
Publishers need to ask themselves how they are optimizing themselves for the digital format, according to Keenan. âWhat are you putting in issue that will drive them?â
âWe donât do a vertical magazine as a digital issue,â he adds. âWeâre not constrained to the typical ways we build print. With a digital edition, we can go with a horizontal layout and avoid the zoom function.â
The digital edition of Consumer Goods technology features deep integration with the Web site, with content flowing through the same CMS. The magazine also includes a number of features that make the issue look digitalâincluding video, polling, and blow-in charts.
Metrics also give Edgell insight into who the audience is and how they engage. To pull better metrics, Consumer Goods Technology tied ads for its digital edition directly into its ad management system. âA lot of people donât do that but it lets us serve Flash ads and it makes reporting easier,â says Keenan. âWe showed advertisers the types of reports we could pull and they got comfortable with the idea that, âHey, weâre going to reach that audience.ââ
Both Uptime and Consumer Goods Technology offer enhanced ads with digital editions, ranging from flash to video to audio. Consumer Goods Technology has seen Flash boost clickthroughs by 50 percent on some ads and Uptime is providing direct response capabilities, where readers can fill out forms in the ads.
âAdvertisers like the creative control with a digital edition versus static banners on a Web site,â says OâHanlon, who adds that the price for enhanced ads can range from $500 to $5,000. âIf you tack on something that makes sense, $500 is not much money for a b-to-b advertiser.â