How to experiment with digital publishing on a tight budget
Most publishers know by now that you need to experiment with digital in order to survive in the future, even if you still make the majority of your revenue from print. The challenge is making sure any such experiment is affordable and provides clear results in order to inform decisions about how to best manage your business through such a transformation.
The good news is that transformation doesn’t need to happen overnight - you can experiment over a period of time to find out what works best.Continue to extract as much revenue as possible from print whilst managing costs down. Good use of data can also help ensure your print run is optimised and eliminate any wastage from paper and postage costs.
The first stage for most companies embracing digital publishing is to launch a responsive website. This is a very important step and absolutely the right thing to do first so that your content can be viewed on every screen size. Everyone knows that mobile content consumption has proliferated in recent years so all the more reason to ensure your content is viewable on mobile devices. What isn’t so well known, is that 90% of all mobile time is spent in apps. Users actually prefer the app experience when consuming content on mobile so having an app is therefore of huge importance.
Apps have a reputation of being expensive which is partly due to the legacy of early app adoption when the iPad was first launched (2010). Back then it was assumed everybody would read magazines and content in general as digital versions on tablets. Publishers rushed to launch replica solutions to take advantage of this but paid the price. They were largely overcharged for a basic offering (PDF Upload) and advertisers never really embraced the form.
We now know that mobile content consumption exploded and replica solutions looked bad on mobile, users had to pinch and zoom to read content which isn’t a good experience. Peter Houston discusses this further in an article “Can Publishers Rebuild Customer Loyalty with Apps?” on Publishing Executive.
Now it is possible to deliver a very strong user experience affordably with a fully responsive app. Here are some of the things you should look out for to ensure you get the “biggest bang for your buck.”
Automation - Look for a platform that can automate the export of content from your existing workflow into their platform, avoiding the need for costly additional resources.
Workflow - Make sure whatever you implement can dovetail nicely with your existing systems. You should find this out before committing to any platform to avoid potentially expensive hidden integration costs.
Continuously Updated Content - In order to monetise your app you need to ensure users are engaged. If they have to wait a week, month or quarter for new content (like with a magazine) then they will not develop a habit of opening the app on a regular basis. Choose a provider that understands this and can integrate live web feeds and aggregate social channel content.
Archive Content - Publishers usually have huge amounts of archive content. This can be monetised without the high costs of print with special digital only editions. Ensure your chosen platform gives you creative control to make new editions from archive material.
App Marketing - Creating an app can be relatively easy. Discoverability in a highly populated app store, however, is a challenge. Ensure your chosen provider will offer assistance after your app has launched, helping with best practice to ensure your app listing is optimised and marketed effectively to help it reach its intended audience. Here’s how to maximise app exposure and ensure your content is seen.
Data/Analytics - Ensure you are monitoring usage of your app via your analytics package so you can see what content is working and adapt your product accordingly. Keep in close contact with your users via surveys and focus groups to find out what changes you can make to improve the experience and deepen engagement.
Monetisation - The best way to ensure your digital publishing experiment is affordable is to monetise it. Avoid intrusive advertising pop ups and banners that detract from the reader experience. Make sure you can offer sponsorship at various levels of the app eg. a section or splash page as the app loads. Also make sure you have a canvas that allows advertisers to take advantage of native advertising trends which is proving to be very popular with advertisers and users.
It’s an exciting time to be experimenting with digital publishing, there are some highly affordable solutions on the market to help publishers build sustainable and profitable digital experiences that will deepen engagement with audiences. Read 5 reasons why publishers choose to work with ePublish.
Print is important for retaining existing users but experimenting with digital will help you to grow NEW users, this is the key to digital growth and long term prosperity for your brand.
The first stage for most companies embracing digital publishing is to launch a responsive website.