I love hearing about our clients winning awards. Just last week I was informed that our client AAA Living won an APEX Grand Award in Electronic Media and a Magnum Opus Award in Most Improved Design.
The APEX award is an annual competition for publishers editors, writers and designers who create in a wide variety of mediums, including Web, electronic and social media.
The Magnum Opus awards is for companies, agencies and individuals working in content marketing, which includes design and editorial in both print and digital publications.
To win both awards is a huge honor, and I’m proud to announce AAA did it with their March/April 2011 issue. This issue (seen here) is very typical of the kind of tech-savvy, reader-friendly digital edition AAA produces.
AAA has to cover a wide variety of topics; therefore, they make strategic decisions regarding design to both break the information into manageable pieces, and to encourage readers to engage with the content. Some of my favorites include the rollover animations regarding motorcycle care on page 8, the hilarious animation on page 18, the special deals on page 28… Well, apparently I’m a big fan of all the pages ending in "8" so click through to see them all.
Congratulations AAA Living!
You might not be calling to a bookstore newsstand passerby now that you’ve gone digital, but your magazine cover will still need to seduce readers in your email blast, Facebook post, or the promotion spot on your website. Effective design and use of the medium might mean the difference between someone diving into the issue the minute they get it, and someone putting it off for later. Just as important as enticing readers, the cover begins to establish the message of the magazine brand: upbeat v. hard-hitting, pop v. news, informative v. entertaining, tech-based v. all about the arts, innovative v. old-school, and so on.
In the digital realm, publishers can do more than rely on a celebrity’s photo to guarantee magazine opens and shares. Using techniques such as animation or hot links, covers can be used to push readers into feature stories. Here are 5 different approaches to designing great and effective digital magazine covers.
1. Locum Life
Locum Life recently had a redesign which embraced the digital medium. During the redesign, they shifted their approach to cover design. In recent issues, they focused on driving readers directly into the content of their choice: each topic has its own image and headline, arranged with a grid-like feel to make it easy to digest and easy to choose a story to jump into. Compare this very inviting, content-driven format to their previous cover designs by looking at their archives.
2. World Wildlife Fund
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) mesmerized readers by turning their cover into a full-page video. Their feature story, "Our Coasts, Our Seas," might have garnered activists’ attention regardless; but, the cover video entrances new viewers. I personally witnessed as people who saw the cover exclaimed that it was better than looking in an aquarium. While the video loops for readers who view the cover for longer periods of time, the animation entices readers to flip past the cover to see what other delights are deeper in the edition.
Hitachi also embraced the digital medium by incorporating animation, but it was important to them that the animation be visible in their readers’ mobile browsers. To keep the wow-factor of cover animation, the development team used HTML5 animation, viewable on mobile devices of all platforms.
Splash magazine is typically all about everything swimming. But when the Olympics come around, the focus is – of course – on Olympic swimmers and events. Taking advantage of timely events and issues is a commonly used tactic for creating an impactful cover. The beautiful thing about digital is by adding social media capabilities, your magazine can be shared across networks and "friends" groups while the event is still a hot topic.
Assessing Retirement Plan Value report’s cover had the heavy job of making a tough subject look inviting and possible. Principal Financial Group tackled that with light, intriguing animation that consistently loops, interactive animation that bounces over menu items as the reader scrolls over it, and an illustrated cover character balancing the tough concept (represented in words) on one finger. The entire cover design is made to put the potential reader at ease. Publishers tackling heavy or complicated topics frequently use light and interactive animation on the cover to help relax the reader and coax them further into the edition.
Digital marketing is a new and expanding element in any businesses’ playbook. And some of our clients are just doing it right.
We’ve wrapped up 5 short case studies into one resource, downloadable here, which highlight how 5 businesses
- - boost engagement
- - expand their reach
- - drum up excitement
- - entertain new readers
- - and more
The wow-factor. A phrase made cliché by marketers’ overuse, yet has not lost any of its allure to audiences and advertisers alike. It’s a necessary element to every promotional piece to evoke reader action. But, as every content creator, brand manager and marketer knows, getting your audience to be "wowed" isn’t easy.
It’s also not too hard: Add a little "awesome!" to your next digital campaign with integrated tactics that delight readers, sponsors and advertisers.
In this free white paper is five micro studies of businesses using digital editions to promote their brand and to inspire a targeted audience into action. Each company took a different strategy, mixing some of the best features of old media – like large efficacious images, intentional design, and the cohesive quality of a publication – and new media – such as animation, digital design choices and customization.
They didn’t seek to thrill everyone who clicked the link to their content; but, they created an awesome encounter for everyone who fit their target audience.
Create a better experience for fans of your brand, and reap the benefits of an engaged audience left saying, "that was awesome!"
Attention Firefly, Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, and other space-centric pop culture fans. Prepare to get out-nerded by this aerospace digital edition.
I’ll admit it: I like Firefly. And I’ve been known to watch the Star Wars and Star Trek series. But what United Business Media (UBM) did with their special edition of EETimes, Military Aerospace issue, goes beyond a mild interest in science fiction. It launches readers of all types into an all-out excitement about what’s going on in outer space.
To begin with, the content is high quality. In their special edition, UBM covers topics such as unmanned vehicles, modular test platforms, and Galileo’s launch. With cutting edge technology as the issue’s focus, it seems a natural fit to present the material in a digital-savvy (digital only) format.
UBM takes advantage of the technology by seamlessly integrating extras like full-page animated photos, video, and additional content hidden behind animation. Check it out: on page 23 readers are briefed on the need and solution for wireless, unmanned craft used for Navy surveillance. On page 31, they tuck additional information about Galileo behind an animated button.
If nothing else, check out the video on page 4 which, with the quality of a Hollywood production preview, inspires viewer into curiosity. And "Curiosity will launch late this year and land on Mars in August 2012."
By taking advantage of the medium, UBM is able to appeal to an audience interested in technology, and even broaden their scope to untapped readers who might start with a vague interest in space and end up ensnared by the engaging digital extras. Their cover quote sums it up well: "After the shuttle, the stars."
The Background: Some time ago, the Gilbane Group released a report seeking to discern the potential power of digital magazines to meet advertisers’ and readers’ needs. In an independent study completed by the research group, publishers were interviewed at length to determine what challenges they hoped digital editions would solve, and what results they saw.
The Foreground: Fast forward to now, and we discover publishers entering this space have many of the same challenges, and the same concerns. To help address this, we have updated the report into one succinct document containing 5 case studies illuminating how publishers tackle industry challenges such as:
- combining text, images, animation, audio and video into a single, media-rich offering with value-add for advertisers
- battling production and distribution costs
- easily reaching an international, professional audience
- having a competitive advantage in attracting readers and advertisers
- increasing engagement with content without losing readers
If you find yourself facing some of these same challenges, click here to download 5 case studies for free.
Last week we posted a case study on The American Prospect and how this publisher used digital supplements to increase circulation and push paid subscriptions. (If you missed the study, you can download it here.)
But thereâ€™s another side of the story. Increased circulation is certainly a goal of publishing, but increased reader engagement is crucial to proving content value. The question remains: what medium provides the best reader engagement? The American Prospect Advertising Manager Ed Connors points to his website and digital edition analytics to answer that question.
As the full case study points out, the content published to their website and their digital editions is comparable; content is pulled from the Special Report and monthly magazine onto the website. Yet the website material doesnâ€™t spread virally like the Special Report, and tracking metrics show it has a lower engagement time.
Connors reports, â€œOur numbers overall for the digital magazine and Special Report are much better than our website.â€ He went on to say the Omniture tracking enabled for the digital editions are much more specific than website data, and from this, â€œweâ€™re seeing much longer engagement in the digital edition. More pages and more time spent on it.â€
Connors attributes part of the success to the format inherent to digital editions: â€œYou have everything all in one place, easy to use, in a fun-type format. A lot of people are seeing this for the first time, and theyâ€™re flipping pages, and itâ€™s engaging. Youâ€™re clicking page to page to page to view different articles, and you donâ€™t have the same set up with a cover and magazine on your computer screen looking just as it looks in your hand.â€
So the next time you’re considering where to spend more of your energy – on a website or a digital edition – consider your metrics and check where your readers are spending their time.
One of our clients, The American Prospect, has a valuable approach to increasing circulation to their subscription-based monthly magazine: they offer targeted content in a Special Report for free.
We had the rare opportunity to take a look at The American Prospect’s publishing model with Advertising Manager Ed Connors. During the research process, Connors reported: "What we have found is that we’re able to capture a niche audience for special reports through dissemination of the link to advocacy groups with a special interest in the subject matter of the reports." As a result, "the visitors went viral," said Connors.
Read the case study "Bait Paid Subscriptions with Free Content" to see:
1. The trick to making your content viral
2. How to use free content to tease readers to pay for more
3. Why digital editions was the key to skyrocketing visitors and engagement
Download the full case study here and learn how you can apply some of the same practices in your own model.
When Network Media Partners executed the launch of the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity’s new, highly optimized digital magazine, they did so with their readers in mind. Many of you have already downloaded our Digital Optimization Guide (click here to request it), but if you want an exceptional example, I invite you to check out AHDI’s digital magazine, Matrix.
In particular, Matrix excelled in three major areas:
1. Digital Extras – Digital extras like animations, video, and audio extend readers’ interest in your content. Matrix is chock full of digital extras, such as an intro video which explains the new layout, video in advertisements, and the subtle adjolts in almost all of the ads.
An impressive digital extra is the mouse-over pop-ups they added throughout the edition. When a reader scrolls over specific icons on a page, additional content appears; it disappears when the mouse cursor is moved. This involves readers with the content without requiring additional clicking. Matrix connects with readers by asking a question at the beginning of the magazine (pictured below), and uses a bubble icon to get them to scroll over for contributors responses to the question.
2. Actionable Content – A less discussed advantages of digital editions is the ability to make content directly actionable. Matrix took advantage of this in several instances, including asking readers for questions and giving a live email link for a quick response. They also added a section a call to action for readers to get involved in a relevant government decision by clicking a live link and signing a petition letter.
3. Digital Advertising – With the new layout, advertisers get more space on the page. Ads look good on all screens – mobile, tablet, or desktop – which is important for advertisers trying to make a good impression on readers. Matrix takes it to the next level by adding a customized tab with advertisers’ logos which takes readers directly to specific advertisements. The advertisement found on the right side has the added advantage of being visible regardless of what page the reader is viewing.
Whether readers are flipping through the edition on an iPad, an iPhone, or a desktop, there are ample opportunities for them to engage and interact. Take advantage of today’s technology by optimizing your editions for optimum reader response.
Apps, apps, apps – we can’t get away from them at the moment. The publishing trade press is awash with stories about how the iPad will transform the publishing industry, increase circulation and revenue and everyone from Hugh Hefner to the small, independent publisher is getting in on the action. Most publishers though just want to know if creating and buying an app is a worthy investment for their magazine brand. We tell the story of one publisher who found it was:
Elcot Publications launched the digital only version of their regional business magazine back in September. For any new magazine circulation and readership is a key concern; but, for a digital only title it’s essential to ensure your content is across the web and tablet devices to take full advantage of potential new readers. We worked closely with the team at Elcot to create a branded, customised app for them, featuring a digital catalogue of their magazine and archived issues.
No one was happier than I was when the client came back to me and questioned the reader and visitors number after receiving their weekly tracking report: what was with the sudden increase in page views and visits (up by just over 34%)? Looking in this we were pleasantly surprised to find a large number of readers had chosen to download the new native app to their iPad/iPhone. Not only did this fact show their readers to be technologically savvy, but also that their iPad app was actively encouraging new readers into their content.
So can creating an iPad/iPhone app increase circulation for a magazine? Yes but we’re not suggesting just signing up for an app alone will have an impact on your reader figures. The clients who are having success in this area are using their iPad apps as part of a much wider digital publishing strategy. They are designing and optimising content for the web, they are actively marketing their content across a variety of devices and tablets and sending out targeted e-mail campaigns. Like anything an app is only as successful as the marketing behind it. Elcot has actively promoted the launch and development of their app over the last few months, and their readers are well aware of the options available to them. Working closely with you the team at Nxtbook will help you do all of this. At Nxtbook we are able to offer both browser based and native/branded apps that your readers can download from the iTunes store. You can talk to your Account Manager about finding the right solution for you.
The Business Magazine:Digital can be downloaded free from the Apple store, please find link below: