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5 Expectations of Web Magazine Consumers

Web magazine consumers like to read their magazines like they read their news – online.

Users are becoming more accustomed to viewing magazine content in the form of web magazines. Web editions are built like web pages, so they can be displayed on any mobile or desktop device, and users are as familiar with the interface as they are with a web browser, which is making adoption even more rapid than tablet editions.

At Mequoda, we currently operate more than a dozen membership marketing systems in partnership with some of the country’s leading content brands including Harvard University, Hearst Magazines and Yankee Publishing.

Developing and marketing web magazines are two of the many duties we perform on behalf of our publishing partners when building and growing their premium membership websites. We also maintain a robust independent research operation that identifies and documents membership marketing best practices being implemented at mentor organizations that include more than 100 of America’s top content producers.

If you’re considering building a web edition, it’s good to know what the most critical web magazine features are for those who are subscribing. Moreover, if you haven’t built a web magazine with a library archive yet, read up on the many benefits.

Consumers are telling us loud and clear what they want—are you listening? How much would you pay for that information? Download a copy of our 2018 Mequoda Magazine Consumer Study for FREE instead, to find out how you can improve your digital magazine rapport with subscribers.

Five expectations of web magazine consumers on premium membership websites

1. The same content from the print magazine is available (maybe more).

This feature is a given, right? Not so, because we’ve seen many publishers leave out the smaller editorial pieces and clips from their print magazines in their web editions within their premium membership websites. Try attaching these smaller snippets, formatted to stand out, at the bottom of the same articles they’re paired with in your print magazine. Users expect to see the full edition and more, in digital.

It’s readable and conforms to any device.

This is the number one request of users who consume digital magazines. Those who dislike tablet magazines have a distaste because they are tired of having to learn and re-learn different interfaces between every magazine to which they subscribe. When they want to read an article, they want to scroll to read as they can online, while many publishers force readers to pinch and zoom a PDF or flip pages like print. Take advantage of the features of web magazines, like scrollable text, and your readers will thank you.

It can be shared, saved, and bookmarked.

The user understands non-subscribers can’t read premium content, but they want to be able to share it anyway. They also want to be able to save and bookmark content to come back to later, which is a built-in feature in any internet browser they’ll use to view the web edition.

Archives are available to view older issues.

If your magazine has been in business for ten to twenty years or longer, then you have a mighty back-issue archive still to digitize, but it will become your most significant resource of new content and passive income. Offering this archive of older issues is not only a bonus for your readers, but is also a huge selling point for upselling print subscribers to premium digital members.

Marketing the web magazine content on your premium membership website

If you’re doing all of the above, but aren’t meeting your revenue goals, it may be because you aren’t properly promoting your web edition. Our premium content partners have special Library Preview emails they send to their email lists.

Library Previews promote premium membership subscriptions through thoughtfully featured excerpts of some of the most captivating paid content available on your site. Rather than leading with a direct offer, the Library Preview model instead focuses on the editorial material your site offers its paid members. Library Previews attract consumers with a compelling piece of content before making a brief, but persuasive, sales pitch to entice them to subscribe in order to continue enjoying all of the content your site provides for paid subscribers.

The basis of these Library Previews, are pages within the premium membership website called Special Collections. These are hand-curated pages that feature a number of premium articles on the same topic. You can learn more about them in How to Create “Special Collections” in a Web Library that Attract and Retain More Subscribers. Each Library Previews features a collection the user gets access to when they become a member.

The Library Preview format typically relies on three main sections:

Section 1 is derivative of one or more premium articles. We typically start with a 300 to 500-word excerpt from a piece of paid content that tells a part of the story, but leaves the audience wanting more. Then we choose three or four related articles, and offer 100-word excerpts of each, which make the reader want to click and read the full articles. Each “preview” has a call to action below the excerpt to get the user to click to the full article, or see more articles in the related Special Collection. Note: Some of our premium content partners choose to focus on just one piece of content, and this is more common when the publisher is sending several Library Previews per week.

Section 2 describes the scope of library coverage across what could be dozens or hundreds of articles on that topic. This is where you can talk more about the Special Collection. For example, if the topic of your Library Preview was about Baking Apple Pies, you could talk about, and link to, the premium content within the Baking Apple Pies Special Collection, which features articles about picking the best apples for apple pie, or the best kitchen tools for making apple pie, or a recipe for making the best apple pie crust. These would all be derivative of the featured articles, which would most likely be different apple pie recipes.

Section 3 is a standardized marketing pitch for the entire service that can be recycled from preview to preview. It should be thought of as a control and any changes to it should be tested.

You can learn more about marketing your premium membership website, in How to Write a Library Preview That Converts.

Mequoda Systems partners with publishers to develop content-driven programs that maximize audience development, customer engagement, revenues and profits with membership marketing systems—and Mequoda is seeking additional partners with valuable content and strong databases to launch new membership programs in 2019. If you’d like to discuss how we can help you build a profitable membership marketing system for your publishing business, please schedule a no-obligation call with a member of our executive team.

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