Posts categorized ‘Catalog’

Life of a Retailer: Examining the Schedule of a Retail Publisher (Part I)

The holiday sales have come and gone, the after-holiday returns and exchanges have been made, and now retailers have a few months to catch their collective breath before diving into the next big promotional period…right?

It may come to a surprise to many, but retailers actually never get a break when it comes to producing the next publication or planning for a promotion that is months away. For certain promotions and seasons, the planning starts three, four, even six months out in some cases.

In part I of this two part series on a ‘Schedule of a Retail Publisher’, we’ll take a deeper look into the schedule of a retail publisher and how the production of digital magazines fits into the schedule. (Note: This is not an exact schedule for all retailers.)

The Good Guys Catalog 140114


During the early part of the year, retailers are assessing the holiday season – did they hit their sales target, how did their promotions perform, were their catalogs effective, and so on. However, there is no rest for the weary as discussions surrounding this Summer’s look and feel begin to happen.

While all the products might not yet be available on a retailer’s eCommerce site just yet, it’s still a good a good idea to start planning the layout of your digital magazine. Pre-planning a layout can help retailers determine what products they want to feature and how they want to tell their brands story.


There is quite a bit that starts happening in March. The Spring fashions preview comes out indoor/outdoor décor ideas come to light, and retailers start gearing up for an Easter push. In April, the Spring clean up and home improvement products start getting added to weekly flyers and circulars, Mother’s day is no longer an afterthought and the Spring apparel season is in full swing!

With the constant change in products on a weekly basis, retailers are under immense pressure to plan and produce their flyers and circulars. Zmags’ Publicator tool makes it possible for retailers to easily upload and produce their online catalogs with ease and efficiency.

PartyLite Catalog 131219


As retailers approach the half-way point in the year (sounds scary, but it comes up on us rather quickly), May serves as yet another busy month with the Spring season coming to a close, the focus on Summer starts to take shape, Father’s Day is right around the corner as well as High School and College graduations, and 4th of July discussions begin a this time as well.

Weekly flyers and circulars still play a huge part in these final two months of the first half of the year, but leading into June the…wait for it…holiday planning starts. Yes, I said holiday planning. It may sound like it’s too early to start planning the publications and promotions, however since the holiday sales last so long and are the most important to many retailers revenue for the year, the focus and planning needed takes time.

Some of Zmags clients start uploading mockups of their online catalogs and lookbooks to determine if visually they layout and structure make sense within a Zmag. Linking and overall production will not start at this time, but having the ability to see your publication structure in the format in which it will be distributed is extremely beneficial for retailers.


As you can see, there is no real ‘lull’ time for retailers. Being strategic and proactive can save time and money in the end, and with the retail environment being so competitive, it’s critical for retailers to get a jump on the competition. As a retailer, how are you being proactive with your online catalog strategy?

Keep an eye out for Part II of this series where we will discuss the second half of the year in the life of a retailer. 

Build Amazing Online Publications With The Resources You Have

Many companies, and brands for that matter, have adopted a ‘do more with less’ mantra over the past few years. Marketers in particular are being asked to take on more responsibility and technical tasks they are not accustom to, which has lead to more outsourcing to various consultants to meet the marketing needs of your company.

Waiting on things such as content and design revisions, and for someone to go into a program or tool you utilize costs time and money. Even reaching out to more technical employees within your company to help you with certain tasks can take time that you cannot afford to lose.

When it comes to creating and publishing online publications, marketers tend to think the production process is just another area where a consultant or a technical co-worker is needed. However, that’s not the case.

Sure, your IT team or another technical source outside of your department might need to be involved somewhat in the initial implementation of your online publication. That being said, once your eCommerce platform has been integrated, you run the show from there.


Linking Image


Keeping it in-house

Your eCommerce platform has been integrated, your PDF is ready to be uploaded and your “to-do” list continues to grow. You think you don’t have the resources necessary and you think you need to scramble to get help with the production of your publication. Think again.

Once a Zmags client have gone through the customer success program, they are able to link on average 80 products an hour. So let’s say the average publication has 40 products to link, you would be able to produce your catalog in about 30 minutes! What it boils down to is that anyone (and I do mean anyone) on your marketing team can link a publication.

Adding rich media and interactivity

Not only does Zmags’ software make linking your publication a breeze, but it also makes adding rich media, such as videos, an easy process as well. You can use videos that are currently on your website, upload them through the media section in the Publicator tool, drag and drop them to where you want them on your page, and have it go live immediately. There are many benefits of adding rich media and interactivity to your publications, and you can easily implement them into your publication without any outside help.

Zmags gives you the tools to build amazing publications, but you ultimately hold the power and ability to produce them yourself. So what’s stopping you? Learn how you can quickly and easily start producing your own Zmag.

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?

Best of 2013 from the Zmags Blog

Digital catalogs, HTML5, multi-channel content creation and strategy are all keywords and phrases we have seen and heard throughout this past year, and all of them have had a significant impact on how our clients (and ourselves as well) have thought about how to incorporate those initiatives into their marketing mix. As we wrote and spoke about those keywords/phrases and trends – as well as many others – we hope they served you well and inspired you to take action with your digital publications.

With 2013 nearly in the books, we wanted to take a look back and share a collection of our best blog posts from this past year – in no particular order.

The Need to Sync Content Across Multiple Devices

In today’s multi-touch point world, the content matters more than the device. People no longer use specific devices to access specific content, but use multiple devices. For example, they may watch a video or browse a website through the desktop, the tablet or smartphone. In this scenario, only the content that remains resilient enough to adapt to the multi-touch point world stand a chance of widespread acceptance.

Merchandising via Digital Catalogs: Your Online Storefront

Online merchandising is a less-talked about part of eCommerce that, in theory, should achieve a similar goal as its in-store counterpart: “To display products in such a way that stimulates interest and entices customers to make a purchase.” However, the layouts of most traditional eCommerce websites look more like image libraries (organized by item, type, size, gender, etc.), rather than well-thought out displays or showcases. 

Getting on Board with HTML5

It’s a safe assumption that the majority of people have heard of HTML5, in some capacity or another by now. Over the last year, 63% of developers began actively developing in HTML5 with an additional 31% having migration plans ready to roll out. Technically, HTML5 is a markup language for structuring and presenting content for the web – but in layman’s terms, it’s the latest way to develop with some surprising benefits that have never been available before.

Evaluating Ad Effectiveness in Digital Magazines and Catalogs

Many digital publishers feature advertisements within their online magazines/catalogs. This can be a full or partial page spread, and interactive blow-in or pop-up ad that appears and disappears, or a banner in the whitespace around the digital publication. When (frequently) asked by advertisers to report back on how the ads perform, publishers are often unsure where to begin or which metrics they should be reporting.

STUDY: Digital Strategies of 28 Top Retailers

Gone are the days of retailers creating a brand experience and telling their story just through in-store designs. With the continued rise of smartphone and tablet use, retailers now have to extend that experience through multiple channels and tell a consistent brand story. Sounds easy, right? It turns out that it’s actually not as easy as it sounds, and many retailers (both large and small) experience difficulties when trying to find that ideal engagement model.

Social Commerce: What’s Real and What’s Noise?

“Social Commerce” is a phrase-de-jour that gets tossed around a lot in tech and digital marketing circles. It’s exactly like it sounds: the convergence of social media and eCommerce, blending the behaviors associated with both. It seems like an inevitable fit given today’s landscape, but does it hold any weight?

Zmags HTML5 Viewer – A Speedy Vision for the Future

HTML5 has become increasingly important in cross-platform deployment of digital shopping experiences. Sure, you can see a published experience on an iPad, and Android phone, and a desktop computer; however, some of these devices cannot run Flash! With the ever-rising use of smartphones and tablets, this could eventually cause an issue for retailers trying to connect with their users through those channels.

We hope you enjoyed our best from 2013, and we look forward to providing you with even better articles and blog posts in 2014!

Great Online Shopping Features this Holiday Season

The Holiday shopping season is just about over, and over the course of the past six weeks we’ve seen a number of online retailers set themselves apart with incredible features, applications, or design in the online shopping experience. We’ve highlighted a few of those features and brands that are difference makers this holiday season.


Often the leaders in ecommerce, Amazon made waves recently in guaranteeing free two day shipping with their “Prime” subscription, in addition to shipping “upgrades” that members become eligible for. You may have also heard their long-term plan to integrate drones into their delivery team, but we’ll keep that one off the table for now. ( . The idea of free shipping is nothing revolutionary, but by popularizing this idea (and generating sufficient buzz), Amazon has eliminated one of the few obstacles associated with online shopping. They’ve also successfully linked online to offline, which seems to be a common thread among retailers this season when trying to generate online buy-in.


StubHub’s Tixmas campaign encourages users to give experiences over items this season. It helps users find gift inspiration based on location, event preferences, price, and other users’ wishlists. This feature generates gift ideas for those that don’t necessarily have one in mind, and that idea of providing inspiration through segmentation is something that a number of retailers have executed on nicely this season.

In addition to the Tixmas feature is the Go Together application, which lets multiple people split the cost of a particular purchase, so that one user isn’t sidled with a massive purchase and left to hunt down other people for money on their own. This would work nicely if several people are pitching in on expensive tickets, as it eliminates any tricky-ness when it comes to fronting and owing money.

The North Face

Zmags client The North Face utilizes video on a lot of their product views, taking it a step further than a 360 view. The importance of video along the purchase path cannot be understated, and clearly the North Face is invested in that idea this season.

Video is another way to help eliminate obstacles associated with online, as users can understand the product in a way that an image or text could not convey.

Toys R Us

While we all may have been toy gift experts in our younger years, it’s now difficult to buy for children, nieces, nephews, and other young ones. Keeping track of the age recommendations can be maddening, and no one knows anymore what anything costs. Toys R Us eases that process by filtering first by age, price, and gender, and then feeding a list of gift ideas along with more traditional category filters to further drill down towards the perfect gift.

The gift finder is something brands everywhere (think: Tixmas) are trying to perfect, as the hardest thing to come by during the Holidays is inspiration. Zmags digital publications are a great way to foster that sort of inspiration because the publisher creates experiences, rather than a simple list of products. Crafting the shopping experience with editorial layouts, themes, videos and expandable content, and social integration helps in pinpointing the perfect item.

Of course these are not the only brands implementing exciting features this season. If your brand deserves recognition, or you know of one that does, get in touch with us and share that exciting content!

5 Ways to Enhance a Digital Catalog User Experience

It’s safe to say that brands (no matter how large or small) know and understand the importance of creating a unique user experience across multiple-channels. Consistency is key and customers take that into account when making purchasing decisions – be it at an actual store, on their phone or even on their tablet.

What really separates companies in terms of how beneficial their digital catalogs are, is how well they create a unique user experience. A publication that encompasses specific tactics and elements can be the difference between a run-of-the-mill publication, and a remarkably engaging publication that keeps users coming back for more.

To meet the needs of your users and create a unique experience that will keep them coming back for more, try utilizing these five tactics to enhance your users experience.

Create a catalog that tells a “Story”

In general, people love a good story, whether it’s through a book, movie, or a close friend – why not tell your users a story about your product line through your digital catalog. Think of it ask taking them on a journey – similar to what they would do in your store (your stores’ layout and set-up). For example, having a creative “table of contents” on your first page, you can set the users path right from the start.

North Face Contents

An enticing story is going to pull the user through the publication, with them wanting to see what’s next. Using internal links within your catalog is a great way for you to control where you want your users to navigate to.

 Keep It Short

Remember the catalogs you would receive in the mail around the holidays from various department and toy stores? Do you recall how long they were, and how overwhelming it was going through them trying to find inspiring ideas for gifts?

The digital world we live in now allows you to keep your publications short by showing ‘like’ products in the same window as the product your user clicks or taps on. Also, shorter catalogs increase the chance of your users making it through entire experience.

Your Brand, Your Way

Maintaining a consistent brand image across multiple channels is something brands do relatively well. Bringing that consistency into your digital catalog is easily attainable, and can even be taken a step further by incorporating the quick views you currently use on your website.

If you use Magento or Demandware as your eCommerce platform, your existing quick views can be incorporated as well. There might be a minor amount of customization work that needs to be done upfront, but once that is complete, you will have a consistent branded look and feel throughout your digital catalog.

Bring Products To Life

Giving your users with the ability to view your products digitally is one thing, but providing them with the ability to view your products through video or 360 views is game changing. By showcasing your products in this light, you’re giving your users the opportunity to have an in-store experience right at their fingertips.

The beauty of this tactic – especially when it comes to video – is that you’re keeping your users engaged for longer periods of time…longer engagements should most likely lead to more sales, if executed correctly of course.

Be Social

Having social share buttons in your digital catalog as well as within your specific product windows is a great way to add a social element to your publication. Ever think about taking that a step further and really engage with users? How, you ask?

It’s actually pretty simple. Here are a few different ways you can carry out this initiative:

  • Share specific items from your catalog or a page from your catalog, across your social media channels. This is a great way to showcase specific pieces of your catalog – by giving the users pieces of the catalog, there’s a greater chance they will eventually go directly to your catalog to shop.
  • Engage with users that have questions and comments on the individual products you posted. Giving them the opportunity to speak to a human (as if they were in a store) is a great way to engage and create a better overall user experience.

It’s all about user experience, period. The tactics outlined above are specific ways in which you can enhance the user experience with your customers and/or potential customers. What are some other ways you are engaging users and creating unique experiences through your digital catalog?

Placement Strategy for Optimal Digital Catalog Viewership

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”  -Walt Disney


Tablet UseAs with any project, online content is only as good as the number of users that it reaches and the impact that is has on those users. It’s not just about engaging, inspiring content (though that’s a good start). It’s about ensuring that all of your efforts are easy to find and use.  The promotion and placement of any online content will significantly impact results.

The beauty of an online catalog, or any online Publication, is that you can guide end users through a linear experience from a single webpage.

When it comes to placement, there are a few best practices to follow:

  • Embed the Publication into a significant page on your website.  For recurring publications use the same page and use something that is easy to identify with.
  • Drive traffic to that page from banners, campaigns and promotions.
  • Talk about the Publication on social sites.  Pages can be deep linked so a single piece of content can be used for multiple talking points.
  • Move from offline to online.  Anything offline can be directed to online – use a QR code, online promotions or offline content to drive traffic online (where it can be measured).
  • Use inspirational search engine tags.  If your consumer needs or wants something specific, tag your page accordingly and they will find that page – use open SEO tags to drive those looking for inspiration, guidance,  or just browsing to the online Publication.
  • Keep the end user entertained.  Once you capture the attention of your end user use rich media and animation to drive read-through rates.  HTML5 animations and videos are great for reducing bounce rates and increasing engagement time.

Website Placement:

  • Current online Publications drive higher site engagement time, and they should be front and centre.  An online Catalog/Publication embedded in a homepage is far more interactive and effective than a banner – tell a story that can be shopped from or interacted with. The North Face do this well when navigating the Holiday Tab on the homepage.
  • Existing Publications should be accessible – creating archive pages works really well and gives instant access for potential, new, and old customers.  Here is a nice example by Robert Allen.

Browsing online content might not convert immediately or be directly measurable, but what it will do is increase time with your brand.  Much like walking around a shop and not buying, an online experience is developing time with your brand and fostering loyalty.  Catalogs and online Publications house content that has the potential to drive brand loyalty – but proper placement will deliver on that potential.


(Photo Credit: Flickr )

Digital Catalog Primer for the New User

Are you an online retailer? Do you have a desire to publish exciting content in conjunction with your product line? If you’re not familiar with the capabilities of a high quality digital catalog, such as those enabled by Zmags, here is a primer of what you can accomplish in today’s e-commerce landscape. Hint: it’s more than a print catalog converted into PDFs…

1. Editorial and eCommerce Are On the Same Page

Traditional e-commerce layouts consist of clickable product thumbnails set against a white or plain background. Such platforms might have an editorial spread or photo gallery, but those would be distinct and separate from the product pages. Digital Catalogs allow for a blend of both: editorial layouts and themed spreads. The individual products placed within are clickable for more information and add-to-cart functionality.

Content & Commerce


2. Tying it Together

The convergence of content and commerce mentioned above is made possible by plugins and integrations from different platforms. Marketers that have an eCommerce platform don’t need to face the tough decision of overhauling their operation just to create engaging content. Plug-ins allow for publications to be embedded into different sites and channels, and plug-ins allow for publications to be synced with eCommerce infrastructures. This integration makes it easier on the publisher in that:

  • All tools from different platforms are on one dashboard
  • Content creators don’t need to manage e-commerce initiatives or infrastructure
  • Inventory and pricing can feed in automatically
  • Content can be edited on the fly based on what’s selling and what’s not selling



3. Content Sized to the User’s Liking

An issue that digital retailers often stumble over is “how much information is enough? How much information is too much?” The desire to at once keep it simple but also deliver every selling point can feel irreconcilable.

Expandable content in digital catalogs addresses that problem. Within a digital catalog, a two-page spread can feature images prominently with little text. But, should the user want to learn more, he/she can click on any product or image within the spread and bring up a lightbox that offers extensive information in addition to shopping features. Expandable content gives power and choice to the user. This feature allows users to shop entire looks, but also explore individual products in vivid detail, therefore experiencing the brand and merchandise in ways that will inspire purchases. Essentially, the retailer gets to paint a pretty picture AND tell a great story.

Expand Content Sub Zero


4. Let’s Get Social

When you’re delivering content on a channel users are already comfortable on, the users are more likely to linger and shop around. That’s what social integration accomplishes. Digital catalogs can be embedded on social media channels, so that the user never needs to leave Facebook or another network to view that content. Catalogs can even be integrated with social functionality such as commenting, seeing what friends like, and sharing pages and products.

5. Every Device. No Problem.  

Today’s online shopper sees each device as only part of the usage matrix – he/she will rotate between laptop, tablet, and mobile with great frequency. As such, the best shopping experiences will address that multi-faceted shopping approach. Digital catalogs can be viewed on any device, addressing the following:

  • Consistent Brand Experience – when a shopper begins shopping on laptop and later wants to purchase on tablet, there will be no drop-off or disparities in the two shopping experiences.
  • Expandable content – Mobile users can move through pages at their own pace, instead of being inundated with text that becomes microscopic.
  • On The Go vs. On the Couch – Mobile users want information and products quickly, while tablet users want a more engaging visit. Catalogs can offer content for both at the same time.

The above points in the Digital Catalog Primer are not five completely separate features, but different factors stemming from the same principle of creating an engaging experience for a savvy user. These capabilities are, in fact, all connected. Integration allows for content and commerce to blend seamlessly, and exist on social channels and multiple devices with a number of engaging features. If you’d like to learn more about digital catalogs and what you can accomplish, send Zmags a note to get started.

4 Characteristics of Successful Digital Content

There is no recipe for successful digital content. It takes creativity, strategy, data analysis, synthesis, and probably some luck too. In today’s multi-channel, social media driven climate, however, we’ve identified 4 characteristics that will help provide a framework for success:

  1. Easy Design
  2. Engaging
  3. Shareable
  4. Adds Value

Easy Design

This may sound funny at first. You’ve heard “easy user interface” or “slick design”, but when the standard for easy usability informs the design process, the result will be better. The relationship between all elements of content – text, images, video – must be easily understood and move the user toward his/her next action.


Viewer Shopping


Another consideration in easy design for digital content is easy viewability across all channels and devices. If the call to action is buried or diminished because it doesn’t translate well from one device to the next, then the content will be hindering its own success.


To engage is to “attract and hold attention”. In today’s cluttered digital world, this seems as hard a proposition as any. But content with this power to attract and retain attention will be content that offers more than reading. Successful content has a mix of text, video, and image, ideally that they can contribute to in some way and share via social networks. Video, for one, has been proven to increase the likelihood of a purchase.


Consider these two commercial videos on YouTube: Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” and Mercedes-Benz “What Is Performance?” The latter video has just under 40,000 views, where the former has approximately 46 million. The difference between the two is that the Old Spice offering has something – in this case a funny man whose location and props seem to change instantaneously – that people want to consume repeatedly and share with other people. The characteristics of “share-able” are hard to identify, but if the goal for content is for it to be share-able in this way, then that will better inform all decisions along the content development and publishing process.

Value Add

Successful content will add value to the user’s experience. Adding value will round out the other 3 characteristics, because without adding value, the other elements are almost nullified. A value-add piece of content will help the user make a decision – for example a telling infographic, a product review, or a demo video. A video can be engaging, but if the connection is not clear and it does not offer something palpable for the user, the video won’t be played for more than 10 seconds. If the goal of content is to “attract and hold attention”, adding value is one way to accomplish that.


Of course there are more characteristics of good digital content than the ones listed above, but checking off some or all of these means that your digital content is headed in the right direction.


Back to School 101: Capturing Greater Share of Wallet via Engaging Ecommerce Experiences

Even though school just ended for a lot of kids, the next school year is already top of mind for marketers and retailers across the country. Additionally, discounts and promotions for back to school continue to roll out earlier, according to Advertising Age, because marketers are trying to reach the consumers who are spreading out their purchases over the summer due to a tighter budget. Dads and Grads season is over and, like it or not,  Back-to-School season is upon us!


back to school


Though classes typically don’t resume until late August or early September (and may vary depending on the country), now  is the time when digital assets are being developed — as marketers are in scramble-mode to publish compelling content and merchandising displays across all channels and ultimately get the highest possible share of BTS wallets.

The National Retail Federation’s 2012 Top 10 Back To School Trends highlights the trends and statistics surrounding online shopping behavior and the tremendous opportunity for retailers during this time:  The National Retail Federation’s 2012 Top 10 Back To School Trends Infographic

At Zmags, we hold true to the belief that ‘Search is not Shopping. This is especially true for Back to School, where what kids want and what parents think they need to purchase will likely change over the course of the summer and buying process. It’s therefore important to provide a dynamic shopping experience and keep website content and inventory fresh to maintain the attention, and capture maximum SOW,  of these shoppers.

Retailers that make it easy to buy a variety of items at one place/website and provide value-add ideas (for instance, ways to save money while stocking up, how to extend the life of your child’s wardrobe, etc.) are likely to come out ahead of competitors.

Another key driver of the digital shopping experience and likelihood to purchase is convenience, especially during BTS season. A variety of preparations are being made for the upcoming school year, all while families are trying to enjoy summer vacations. Tablet commerce becomes a desirable option for parents that don’t have entire afternoons to go out to the mall.  Some brands, such as Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and Elmer’s Glue, have recognized this convenience driver and developed mobile strategies around it, including SMS-delivered coupons and Back-to-School displays for shopping on the mobile site home page.  Back-to-School shopping, bolstered by mobile, was on an uptick:  between 2003 and 2012, online spending for BTS quadrupled , and these shoppers spent 27% more than average ($874).

We have yet to see how the 2013 season will unfold, yet retailers that sell school supplies, kids’ clothes, and accessories are wise to deploy digital catalogs and other online collateral early. One in the Southern Hemisphere that has gotten a head start and has enjoyed success already is the Good Guys NZ.

Beyond Retail

Retailers selling products for school are not the only marketing professionals that will leverage online content during this time of year. College course catalogs, school calendars, event flyers, and more can be published and circulated online with interactive features and sharing capabilities.

When these collateral pieces are in digital format, it ensures that they can be viewed by a wide audience and across all devices.  Schools can position themselves as new-school and tech-savvy by putting a great interactive piece of content in front of their recruits and prospects. Additionally, they will never get lost in the mail or in the shuffle of papers on the kitchen counter!

Footbal Program Guide


Be sure to follow the Zmags blog throughout the summer as Back-to-School season comes to life.