Posts categorized ‘Best Practice’

3 Tips for Creating HTML5 Enabled Digital Magazines

Creating a digital magazine in an HTML5 format has made it much easier for brands to engage and inspire their users through multiple channels. Providing users with a much smoother experience when they access your rich HTML5 publications can create a positive lasting impression.

Here are three things you can do to make your HTML5 digital magazines memorable:

Limit Your Widgets

When using widgets, limit them to a maximum of 5 per page. Why you ask? Well, if a page contains too many widgets, it can really take away from the on-page experience and cause some users to become overwhelmed. This is especially true if external content – such as animations, videos, and or images – are being added to the publication.


Measure On Percentage, Not On Pixels

Many designers will use the number of pixels as their main measurement of size, but when it comes to cross-platform compatibility and scalability, percentage is the measurement you want to use. Through the Zmags platform, you will only have to upload your magazine, link it and add features/functionality to it once. Why complicate things, right?

Add Images Through External Files

Some brands prefer to add individual images over their existing magazine pages, while others prefer to add full-page images instead. If you’re a brand that prefers to add full-page images, you should do this through an external HTML file. The reason for this is because HTML files will scale to fit destination media, but the individual images will not.


Zmags’ platform allows you to easily create HTML5 enabled digital magazines with a few clicks of the mouse. Learn how you can start creating lasting HTML5 experiences with Zmags.

Get a Leg Up on the Competition with the Zmags Webinar Series

February’s ‘Latest and Greatest Webinar’ was a huge success.  Not only because we had hundreds of interested Zmaggers sign up but because of the interest shown in our product and how to get the most out of it.

With so many online tools at one’s disposal keeping up to date with their feature offering has to be worth the time invested.  Wednesday’s webinar was further proof that Zmags delivers a product that is valuable and valued such that customers want to know what’s new, best practices and what’s to come.

webinars easy content marketing ideas

Customers are the bloodline of the business and understanding what they need today and tomorrow is paramount to our success.  To underline that importance we also gave those attending the Webinar a first peak at a our new Product that is entering its official Beta phase later this month.   2014 is going to be a very exciting year. If you didn’t attend the webinar, contact your Zmags representative to find out more and watch this space!

Webinars are a brilliant opportunity to showcase and interact with are valued customer base.  Thanks to everyone who registered, we welcome any additional feedback and look forward to seeing more friendly faces on future Webinars. See our full listing of webianrs here.

Zmags Feature Series: Getting the Most out of the Verge HTML5 Viewer

This is the first instalment of a monthly series where we will be showcasing a specific feature within the Zmags platform.

Creating online publications that are cross-platform compatible is key to the vast majority of our clients. For that reason, we created the Verge HTML5 viewer which gives readers a great experience no matter if they are using their tablet, smartphone or on their desktop.

The Verge HTML5 viewer can be configured and deployed in minutes, but here are four tips to get the most out of the viewer settings:

1: Mobile & Desktop HTML5 Link Style

If your publication is text heavy or does not contain clear call-to-actions like buttons, then configuring a HTML5 Link Style is great way of making the clickable links in your publication stand out. You can add a simple underline, an outline, or a solid fill using whatever color you like.

2: Lightbox

If you are using Lightbox links throughout your publication then, customizing your settings in the viewer is a great way to get the most out of the Lightbox feature. For example, adding your own custom CSS code allows you to configure Lightboxes that are fully in line with your company branding, that can resize to fit into whatever percentage of space that’s available in the reader’s browser. We have created a CSS generator you can use to create your own CSS code.

3: External Statistics

As soon as you activate your publication we start tracking it. The data collected is then placed within the Statistics section of the Zmags Publicator, but if you would also like to have that data sent to your own Google Analytics account then that can be configured in your viewer settings. Simply click the Enable Google Analytics box, and then add your Web Property ID. Then we will send the data collected for your publication.

4: Load Screen styles

A great way to add your company branding to your viewer is by configuring a custom Load Screen. Upload your company logo into the Images folder in Zmags Publicator, add it your viewer under Load Screen styles, configure the background and spinner colors, and add a link to your website. Readers will now see your company logo and colors when loading your publication on all devices.

There are plenty of other features that can be configured in the Verge HTML5 viewer. Even if you have already published and distributed your publication, you can always go back and make changes. Want to learn more about all of our features? Then visit our Community Portal for a full overview of all the available features.

6 KPIs You’ll Need To Determine Digital Catalog Deployment Success

The mantra ‘If it can’t be measured, it’s not worth doing’, has been largely used by CEOs and CMOs over the last couple of years, and with good reason too. Virtually all forms of marketing – video, social, search, and so on – can be measured to a certain extent. Some channels and tools are able to provide in-depth analysis and reporting, while others are able to provide basic data.

When it comes to digital catalogs, you previously were only able to measure a couple key performance indicators, such as page views and clicks. Now, you are able to measure your digital catalog success on an array of metrics that give you some pretty powerful data.


The Zmags platform, for example, has a built in analytics engine that allows customers to get valuable insight into behavior inside their catalog experiences. It allows you to get actionable insights into design and content, including conversion, social sharing, and mobile behavior – down to the page or article.

We know what you’re thinking – “There are so many data points, how do we know which ones work best for us?” We also know that each company is different in terms of their goals and how they measure success, so there are specific metrics that might be helpful for some companies and not taken too much into account by others.

Based on our experiences, and data we have collected and analyzed, Zmags has compiled a list of 6 key performance indicators that will help you measure the success of your digital publication that every company can benefit from.

Bounce Rate

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that open and almost immediately close the catalog without viewing another page.

What does it help you understand?

You’ll be able to get a much better understanding of your audience and if you are targeting the right users or potential users. If you have a high BR, you might want to change the location of your catalog or who you are promoting it to. If your BR is low, you can use that information to better understand what other pieces of content can you promote to your users through this medium.

Helpful Tip

Make it loud and clear what your catalog is promoting right on the front page of your catalog, on the page of your website where the catalog lives, or in the email you send out to loyal users. If a user knows what they are getting into, they are more likely inclined to continue through the rest of the catalog.

Read Through Rates (RTR)

This is calculated as the percent of total visits that make it to the last page of your catalog. Catalogs that contain a high number of pages tend to have lower RTRs as opposed to a publication that has a lower number of pages. Zmags data shows a 75% RTR of catalogs that have 20 pages or less – the overall RTR is 50%.

What does it help you understand?

It is a direct indication of how engaging and relevant and entire publication is. To calculate the RTR on your own, you can divide the number of visitors on first page by that of the last page.

Helpful Tip

Focus on creating shorter catalogs to increase the chances of a higher RTR. If there’s too much relevant content in your catalogs that you cannot remove, try splitting them up into different sub-catalogs (ex: make a 20 page men’s fashion catalog and a 20 page women’s fashion catalog instead of a 40 page catalog that holds everything).

Engagement Time

This is the time spent per page and it is a very important element of audience engagement. You’re producing and distributing these catalogs with the intent to give your users another channel where they can interact and engage with your brand (okay, also to drive ROI), so knowing how and why your users are engaging with your catalog – both positively and negatively – is critical.

What does it help you understand?

It indicates which pages are most popular with your users. Say you have a video on one of your pages, but the engagement time is low – this could mean that the video is not relevant to your audience or it could be located in the wrong area on the page.

Helpful Tip

The flip side is that you can utilize video and other rich media components to enhance the user experience and increase engagement time within your catalog.


This metric shows detailed information at a daily, hourly or visit length level. Data at the daily and hourly level provides a more granular understanding of your traffic patterns. Through the Zmags analytics engine, you can measure the number of visits, page flips, zoom clicks, time per visits and pages per visit.

What does this help you understand?

You can better understand whether the email you sent to your database will spike your traffic, how web traffic fare against promotion strategy, and which promotions worked best.

Helpful Tip

Try conducting A/B testing with your first few catalogs to better determine when, where, and through which channel it is best for you to deploy your digital catalog.

Referring Traffic

How did your users get to your catalog? Was it a Facebook post, an email that was sent out a few weeks ago, or directly from your website. This metric helps you measure all of that and will tell you exactly what path your users traveled to get to your publication.

What does it help you understand?

It helps you understand where your users are coming from, and it also helps you identify any gaps in the top referrers relative to the way your company has promoted and distributed your catalog.

For example, a low share of visits from your websites homepage would indicate that your Zmag is getting lost with other content and is not that accessible, and on the other end, a high share of visits from your Twitter feed would indicate that channel to be effective.

Helpful Tip

Be cognizant though of when and how you’re Tweeting, posting to Facebook, or sending out an email promotion so you know the best times and dates to promote this type of content.


With the increasing use of mobile and tablets for user viewing and shopping, knowing and understanding which device your users is coming from can give you a distinct advantage over the competition.

What does it help you understand?

You can break out traffic by device and by day to gain a better idea of the device, time and date your users are engaging with your catalogs. By determining the experience your users are having on each device through the above metrics, you can make minor – yet effective – tweaks to how your users see and utilize your catalog.

Helpful Tip

Don’t forget to test your catalogs on these devices before they ‘go-live’. A few bad experiences could have a negative impact on your users overall and future experience with your brand.

Digital catalogs have a distinct advantage over other publishing formats because they make it possible to precisely track the behavior and progress of different types of users. The data you collect is extremely valuable – if you know how to use it and what to measure of course.

What KPIs are you using to measure the success of your digital catalogs?

The Secret to Onboarding

When it comes to the first few days on the job at a new company, many of us have probably had similar experiences: dull orientations, awkward alone-time spent at your desk, hurried trainings (if any), and then it’s sink or swim! I’ve even heard horror stories about new employees starting without a computer or phone.

For HR Professionals and Hiring Managers, the harsh reality is that the first few weeks in a new role makes a huge impact on a new employee’s perception of the company, its culture, and its leadership. Finding and hiring the best talent is only the first hurdle; setting them up for success is the critical next step.

It’s important to note that new employee onboarding should go far beyond the basic first day orientation and office tour. At Zmags, it involves comprehensive and engaging training sessions that expose each new hire to our product, our various departments, and our senior leaders within the first two weeks of their employment.

Our training sessions and meetings are done in small groups or one-on-one, allowing for a more personalized learning experience. The information itself covers everything from company history and corporate vision, to our product roadmap and customer support overview. The objective is for each employee to have a solid understanding of the organization as a whole and how their individual role contributes to our company goals.

Finally, we believe that every Zmags employee should be able to understand and use our product – regardless if they work in Sales or Accounting. After receiving several product demonstrations and tutorials, each new hire is asked to publish their own personal Zmag with fun facts and information about themselves. It’s a hands-on product training exercise that also helps the global Zmags organization get to know each new employee.

Check out some real examples of what our new employees have created with the Zmags platform!

Project Manager Tom Majoch’s personal Zmag


Personal Zmag 1


Personal Zmag 2

Today’s Online Shopper Needs Engagement Before, During, and After Purchase

Today’s online shoppers are both engaged and savvy. They know how to use a number of devices and channels to find what they want, when they want it. As an online retailer, it is important to be in touch with this type of shopper. A solid plan is to create engagement before, during, and after the purchase process.

What used to look like this…


Now looks like this…


The “customer journey”, which now apparently includes detours, layovers, and round-abouts, will reward the marketers who give it the attention that it deserves. In this case, the journey is as much of a factor as the destination.

Before: Going Above & Beyond the Product Page

The ‘Before’ phase is the initial impression phase and the research phase. Google estimated before the 2012 holiday season that 80% of shoppers would research online before making a purchase.

Gone are the days when 5 bullets of information, an image, and an “add to cart” button would suffice. Engagement and original content creation need to occur on many different fronts. In addition, one out of three conversions occurs 30 days after the online research began, proving that a visit is not always a ‘win’ or a ‘loss’, but a relationship to foster.

Keeping the brand top of mind pays off: customers who engage with a brand online will spend anywhere from 20-40% more on that brand and its products. So from a brand’s perspective, the goal should be to engage as many people as possible, therefore bumping up the number of those “20-40%” customers.

During: Perfect Balance of Engagement & Commerce

The visit in which the purchase takes place is a sensitive time to deliver content, as marketing 101 tells us not to disrupt or complicate that process. There is a place, however, for supplemental content that is customized to the product or products in the shopping cart, such as:

  • Product Reviews: 82% of testers in a Zmags study said reviews impact the purchase decision or are needed for purchase.
  • Dynamic Product Windows: Digital catalogs employing DPWs allow the user to click right from catalog pages with editorial content to a product page with an ‘add to cart’ button.
dynamic product window

Dynamic product windows in a digital catalog


These types of content can enhance the purchase process without disrupting it. The transition from Research/Consideration > Purchase can become seamless, indistinguishable even, when engagement breeds a marriage of content & e-commerce.

In tablet formats, such a marriage is made possible by platforms like Zmags, which helps build engagement and commerce into online publications, allows for items to be moved into the shopping cart from any page, and offers ‘Shop the Look’ functionality.

After: Spread the Love, Share the Message

Users will be reviewing and discussing the experiences they had during the “Before” and “During” phases, so it is important that those phases hold up in order to garner favorable reviews during this last phase. Favorable reviews will continue to power the cycle: 82% of testers in a Zmags study said reviews impact the purchase decision or are needed for purchase.  It is important, therefore, to have the proper channels in place for users to continue to interact post-purchase.

It’s better to think of the buyer journey as more of a cycle, instead of a linear “funnel”. The various stages are just points within this cycle, and in the cycle, the conversation never ends, it just continually changes.

Top 10 Tips to Optimize Views on Your Online Content

Here are 10 tips and best practices for effectively deploying online content. Using some or all of these best practices will ensure that you reach the biggest potential audience and maximize results.

1. Use a dedicated e-mail to launch your Publication. Within the HTML e-mail, use a Call to Action (CTA) or Hero Image when promoting the Publication.

2. Ensure a clear CTA to the Publication is being used on homepage. It is recommended to add a CTA, preferably an image, on the home page and add a reference to the Publication in the Website header & footer.

3. Embed the Publication into your website. This will mask and give a more memorable URL as well as give additional branding and social sharing options. It is easy to use our API and embed the Publication into your site (all coding is done for you!) Then, promote the Publication’s location.

4. Ensure the Publication has been fully Search Engine Optimized. The more traffic and referrers the better the search engine rank.

5. Promote from other affiliate sites, website banners or PPC campaigns.

6. Social Posts: There are several Social Sharing options:

a. Use a Facebook App
b. Ensure the content has Social Sharing enabled
c. Social shares can be added to HTML when using a lightbox
d. Social sharing can be added to HTML pages when embedded or when embedded you can add the Wibiya toolbar
e. Talk about your content on Social Sites. URL shortners work well when tweeting content and articles/pages can be deeplinked to when talking about content on Facebook, Linkedin and other Social Sites
f. Drive traffic using Facebook Ads

7. Add a CTA to internal company e-mail signatures that links to the Publication.

8. Promote online content within Offline content using Publication URL or QR Code. Examples might include Print material, in-store promotion, offline campaigns.

9. Subscription. Provide an easy way for consumers to sign up and get the latest content via e-mail, alert, blog etc.

10. Blog & use an efficient Publishing Schedule. Try and focus on solving problems or entertaining. Those are the only two reasons people go to the Internet in the first place. Back up online presence with a consistent publishing and content delivery schedule.

How the User Interface Drives Sales

One of the crucial game changers in online commerce is the user interface. The merit of the product, the innovation of the marketing campaign or the size of the deal offered may all lure customers to the website, but it is invariably the interface they encounter that determine whether they proceed with the purchase or go away.

Marketers have always worked hard to make the user interface as attractive as possible. Successful marketers make sure that such attractiveness does not compromise ease of use. Now, with the advent of multiple digital touch points, marketers need to do more.

Today’s marketers need to offer a clean and intuitive interface that not only caters to seamless engagement and discovery for the customer but also allows the customer to purchase without leaving the catalog. While the focus has always been on allowing the customer to explore or share content-rich pages and dynamic imagery with a quick tap or dab, it is time to allow the customer to move the product to the shopping cart with equal ease. In short, the marketer needs to interpose engagement and commerce to the brand’s online content.

Again, marketers need to not just ensure that they provide a rich and enriching brand experience to customers, but also make sure that such experience remains consistent across all devices through which the customer accesses content.

The new Verge Viewer offered by Zmags facilitates this, as exemplified in the latest catalog of Serena & Lily, the seller of luxury home décor products. The company adopted Verve to provide the next wave of digital experience to its customers. The technology allowed the catalog to sport some intuitive features, such as arresting visuals using maximum available browser space, facilitating swipe based navigation wherein the customers search for products by keyword, accessing the required page with just one swipe or click, and more. The catalog also groups products, displaying the full suite of catalog page below the current page, allowing shoppers to browse or purchase items individually or collectively.

The Zmags Serena & Lily Catalog

Are you creating a user interface that drives sales?

Ensuring a Truly Integrated Experience Across Multiple Devices

Consumers now access content through multiple devices. The diversity of touch points is not just limited to devices such as desktops, tablets or smart phones, but also to mediums such as web browsers, dedicated apps, Facebook and others. The challenge before marketers is to not just ensure that their content remains optimized across all these multiple touch points, but also ensure that the content presentation, and by extension, the customer experience, remains consistent across the diverse channels and devices. Side by side, the marketer needs powerful analytic capabilities to understand what works and what does not work, and the extent to which the popularity across content, segregated by touch points, actually translates to revenue.

Little Tykes / Play Power, a seller of playground equipment has deployed Zmags Professional solutions to ensure all these, and more.

Little Tykes Zmags Verge

Apart from ensuring a consistent brand image across devices and channels, Zmags Verge spruces up the catalog and facilitates slick, tablet-optimized navigation. The attractive visual representation of the playground equipment complete with descriptions and pop-ups to relevant links apart, catalog viewers can configure the playground equipment in different colors and settings, visualize how kids interact in different equipment, mix and match different equipment, read social media reviews, and do more, all without leaving the catalog.

Zmags also provides for a truly integrated experience by allowing the consumer to complete the shopping within the catalog itself, meaning that the consumer can complete the entire marketing lifecycle right from initial product enquiry or curiosity to actually making the purchase and even providing feedback, without having to stray from the catalog at all.

How can you improve your customer lifecycle marketing with digital catalogs?

How Online Catalogs Support Personalized Sales

Today’s customers are highly informed and access information about products through various digital touch points (like online catalogs!) by themselves. The role of the marketer is now to guide the customer through the buying process, to provide them with a good experience in whichever channel or medium they choose, rather than dictate terms. This requires a shift from the product centric marketing campaigns to customer centric campaigns, and this, in turn rests on the marketer customizing the engagement with the customer. At the same time, the marketer also needs to ensure a consistent voice and message across the different channels.

Online catalogs as a marketing tool facilitate this trend, which is evident from the experiences of PartyLine, a niche maker of candles, candle warmers, fragrances and premium home décor products.

PartyLine Zmags Catalog

The company’s online catalog, powered by Zmags Verge, retains its almost one hundred year old reputation of providing personalized service and striking a lasting relationship with customers. The company managed to create lasting relationships by delivering top quality, sustainable and durable lifestyle and home décor products.

The Verve powered catalog, slick in design and optimized to provide the perfect medium showcase such strengths. The rich imagery that radiate the beauty of the products takes on from where the glossy print catalog left and even improves the experience for the consumer.

The catalog, instead of listing each item on stock, lists only a few products with bigger images, and a curative experience when the consumer browses the catalogue. The company merchandises the products exactly the way they want online shoppers to find them.

A preview tab allows the consumer to see the product coming up next, allowing them to delve into it or side step it to some other product.

The rich, in-depth, flexible and engaging experience offered by Zmags PartyLine catalog gels perfectly with at-home parties where the sales agent connects with the potential clients.

How can you use an online catalog to engage your customers?