2017 Resolutions for Digital Magazine Publishers

Digital magazine engagement should be top priority for publishers in 2017

If there’s one area of publishing that has not stood still, it’s digital magazine publishing. In 2015 it was more important than ever for publishers to understand the five digital magazine archetypes and get app magazines at least one step up from a replica. And in 2016 it became of utmost importance for magazine publishers to launch a magazine subscription website business model so that your mag doesn’t go the way of the Dodo.

2017 is about engagement. The more engagement your digital magazines get, the more value you can sell to advertisers, and the more subscribers you’ll gather. Getting people to subscribe but also to read, engage, and interact, should be at the forefront of your 2017 resolutions in digital magazine publishing.

But how can you get users to engage with your digital magazines more in 2017? What can you add as a feature to the magazine, and how can you get people to see that value? Here are a few ideas we have for getting more engagement in 2017.


Digital magazine resolution #1: Determine how more video can be added.

It’s no secret that video consumption is growing rapidly. How can you add video to your digital magazine that makes subscribers eager to download each issue and watch it? Can you create a video series? Is there instructional content, or even advice content that would garner the attention of subscribers. Think long-term when it comes to video. You might not have Netflix money and studios to produce 12 episodes of a 60-minute show, but consider how you might be able to create content that keeps readers coming back.

Digital magazine resolution #2: Highlight personas for added exposure.

Last year, Meredith released a new magazine called The Magnolia Journal, in which they collaborated with TV stars Joanna and Chip Gaines of HGTV Fixer Upper fame. Since their show blew the top off ratings, the Gaines’ have reinvested into their own personal brand called Magnolia. They have several businesses under this name including a realty company, a home furniture company, a local market, a bakery, and many partnerships with interior design and clothing companies that bear the Joanna Gaines name like Loloi Rugs and Matilda Jane Clothing. So it was only a matter of time before they’d have a magazine partner, and Meredith obliged.

The success of the first issue gave Meredith bragging rights. Christine Guilfoyle, Senior VP, Publisher, Meredith National Media Group told Mr. Magazine, “Print is alive and well. The consumer continues to purchase print products that appeal to their passions and their sensibilities for service. Circulation numbers have never faltered and it’s our job as publishers, individually, and as publishing companies, to make sure that we continue to demonstrate to the advertising community that we have “her” hooked. And our content is distributed and it’s always on-fashion and that we serve up content that is unique to the platform from which it appears.”

The ‘ol “print isn’t dead” mantra is great, but this result isn’t just print-based. They were able to tap into a niche of Magnolia enthusiasts and create a product that people felt they wanted, in order to connect better with their favorite HGTV hosts.

Can you do the same in your digital magazine? You don’t have to launch a whole new magazine to tap into this, but there’s no shame in riding the wave. If there’s someone new and hot and your niche that people are flocking to, how can you leverage them in your digital magazine? Video interviews and ongoing columns are great ideas, as long as you back the right horse.

Digital magazine resolution #3: Improve your app reviews.

What’s your current app rating in, say, the Apple App Store? If it’s anything less than five, it’s time to get to work. First, if there are any recurring complaints, consider it a trend and not user-error. Errors and not being able to access back issues are some of the most common complaints in the app store for magazines. We’ve also seen many complaints from users who are angered when the app is free, but you need to purchase issues. One remedy for this is to offer at least one free issue in your app with plenty of conversion architecture set up for them to convert into subscribers.

Remember, users hit “buy” all day long in the app store on everything from $0.99 cent fart apps to $99 dollar productivity apps. So subscribing to a digital magazine for $9.99 does not come with the same stigma in an app store as it does with a blow in card, or a long subscription form you need to fill out online. Giving out a free trial issue (not the current issue) is a great way to convert app downloaders into subscribers.

Once your app is up to par with the user’s mental model, or what they expect to receive when they download, you should re-engage with users. Create a temporary push notification that asks them to rate the app, or an in-app pop-up. For free users, you could offer a free back issue that becomes available when they review, or new features to subscribers who review.

The more engagement your digital magazine receives, the higher renewal rates you’ll see and the better stats you can deliver to advertisers.

What else would you add to this list? What will you be doing to improve engagement with your digital magazines in 2017?




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