In my last post, I talked about how to match your digital magazine’s features with your audience. Here, I’ll carry that forward into measurement. It is imperative that you measure the effect of your digital edition initiative very carefully—and honestly. You need to set your goals in advance, but there is no reason why these goals cannot change providing there is a sound reason to do so.
Circulation professionals long ago learned that the editor who said, “Just send people one renewal. People love this magazine, they’ll renew,” was never correct. If you think that works, give me a call, I have a bridge I can sell you. It is important you base your decisions on actual results compared to what you are trying to achieve.
I know it is going against popular thinking, but a 20 percent open rate is really not that impressive because what a 20 percent open rate really means is that 80 percent didn’t.
What should your strategy be if you’re faced with this situation? First, is the open rate approximately the same each month and is it the same people each month? If the answer is yes to these two questions, then you need to concentrate on the 80 percent who are ignoring you. You also need to ascertain how many people in the 20 percent category actually download the magazine—the more the merrier. Those people who open the email, but do not download the issue need to be addressed. There are many reasons why they didn’t download it, but you need to know because it could be something that is easily fixable.
How you approach improving the digital response depends on what it is you are trying to achieve with your digital issue. If your digital issue is just to support the print product as an added benefit, then a low open rate may be acceptable. If you are trying to move to a digital-only platform, a low open should not be acceptable.
The reason people renew a magazine is because it helps them professionally or entertains them privately, but in both cases, this requires the reader to actually have access to the magazine. A print magazine has an advantage because it can sit on a desk or table and have visibility until the cleaners come, but a digital magazine lurks on a computer and is not as visible. Put simply, people forget.
If you are creating digital issues based on demographics, or regions, check to see if there is any variance in open rates because it could be a certain demographic does not respond as well as another—and the same goes for regions. It does not make sense to create something that is being ignored but unless the data you are reviewing is measurable, making a decision is difficult.
The key thing is to work on the 80 percent who don’t open the edition. The more you can reduce this figure, the better off you will be. Whether it is fair or not, digital magazines get judged differently than print because data is available on digital deployments that is simply not available on magazines deployed by the post office.