“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
As 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.
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.
As was expected, the total online sales on Black Friday once again toppled the $1 billion mark at $1.198 billion. This number represented a 15% increase, according to comScore , from Black Friday online sales in 2012.
Additionally, a new day is emerging in the e-commerce calendar: Thankful Thursday. Thanksgiving Day, the holiday around which Black Friday and Cyber Monday were created, is actually the fastest growing online shopping day in the past five years. Shopping online on Thanksgiving presents none of the logistical problems that in-store shopping does, nor are there any lines. It makes sense that as people are relaxing with their families getting ready for the turkey, they are breaking out the tablets, laptops, and smartphones, and getting a jump on great deals.
For Cyber Monday, USA Today posted an article late Monday night as numbers were being reported. Depending on the time when data was pulled, overall sales were seen to be up between 17 and 20 percent from last year.
The strong numbers posted on both shopping days can be attributed in large part to the rise of mobile. Black Friday saw mobile traffic account for 39.7 percent, which is a 34 percent increase from the same day in 2012. These metrics come from a report from Gigaom aptly titled “Black Friday shopping by the numbers: Mobile-optimized sites win”. All significant metrics related to sales were also up from 2012.
USA Today’s reporting on Cyber Monday stated that 29.4 percent of online traffic came from mobile devices, representing a 61 percent jump from last year. The same data suggested that “shoppers used smartphones to browse but were more likely to make purchases on a tablet.”
Cyber Monday has already stretched into “Cyber Week”, as many deals did not end with Monday. Where will it end? Deal-seeking online shoppers will be active throughout the month of December, preferring sites that are engaging and user-friendly across multiple devices. The increase of online shopping, specifically the use of mobile devices to shop and research, shouldn’t be alarming. Zmags’ solutions are designed to help marketers and retailers engage with deal-seeking shoppers during these high-volume periods.
As digital catalogs, lookbooks, and interactive experiences as a whole are becoming more critical to a brand’s overall content marketing strategy, it is becoming more and more important to track and evaluate the performance of these experiences.
To help you get started, Zmags publishes a quarterly benchmarking report compiled from the performance data of thousands of our customer’s digital experiences – both commerce enabled catalogs and non-commerce enabled catalogs.
Our Digital Catalog/Magazine Benchmark Report, which will be featured in an upcoming webinar, allows you to compare your interactive catalog or magazine’s performance to thousands of others in and outside of your industry.
Some of these important key performance metrics include:
Brand engagement: visit duration, page views, and boucne rates Total reach: visit levels overall by mobile device Commerce: ecommerce conversion rates and average order sizes Impact on website: share of visits and revenue driven by shoppable online catalogs
Join us on Thursday, Dec. 5th for an exclusive look at our most recent report that covers digital experiences published in Q3 of 2013. Our upcoming report will also include a deeper dive into the performance metrics of the automotive and education industries.
So, if you haven’t registered already, sign up now to reserve your seat! We’ll be reviewing the results at two convenient times, 9:00am ET and 12:00am ET. We hope you don’t miss out!
The idea of a news ticker, specifically one embedded in a piece of online content, is nothing new, and yet still there are many brands out there not utilizing one properly. A news ticker can be a valuable tool in a brand’s arsenal, offering content in a way a blog or social media site cannot.
A news ticker is a way to provide timely content that doesn’t require producing. It’s one of the reasons why user-generated content is also so valuable – it constitutes authentic information that requires very little execution from your team.
The reluctance with integrating a feed like this is that you cannot control the content, but in reality you can control it as much as you like. You can set up the feed and post to it regularly. This allows you to easily push real-time corporate news, product updates, or other information to your readers.
Customizable Features and Options for a News Ticker:
Placement of feed – You can embed a news feed anywhere on the page of a viewer, meaning editorial decisions can take priority, and then the ticker can be placed wherever there is a fit.
Transitions – Transitions like scrolling, curtain, refocus, fade, and others can be employed, so that the feel of the news feed fits the feel of the overall publication.
Duration – Only you can tell how long the features of the feed will take to read, so you can customize how long each is shown before transitioning down or across the feed.
Reload frequency – Similar to duration, you can customize how often the ticker is updated with new posts.
Bring in posts and content from social media sites without your user having to leave your window.
An RSS Feed can be deployed on any site, not just your digital publication. You can create one for your publication, and then deploy it on other pieces of content or future publications down the road. This versatility makes the news ticker all the more worth it.
The latest news and information in a specific industry or niche carries a lot of power and popularity. That is probably a surprise to no one. The key for digital publications will be harnessing that power in a way that adds value, but does not distract from, the main focus of the publication.
Zmags is in the business of providing solutions – part of that is helping to answer the pressing questions right now in digital content publishing. For existing, as well as potential publishers, here are 5 questions we’ve been frequently fielding.
1. What Are the Benefits of using HTML 5 in “Layman’s Terms”?
HTML 5 is a code language used for building and developing web content, so the publisher or marketer need to know very little about it. But what everyone should know is its growing popularity, and that it is viewable across all channels and devices, easy to maintain, includes rich media elements right in its code, and is the most straightforward way to develop for mobile.
2. What is the Difference Between a Mobile App and Mobile Web-Based Solution?
At the basic level, and app is downloaded on a particular device or operating system, while web-based mobile site is a site that is specifically designed for mobile and renders automatically on mobile devices. The key differences are that a web-based solution is easier to deploy, creates an easy browsing environment, and tends to be inexpensive. A mobile app can perform some functions offline, is more customizable, and can be expensive, but also can cost money per download, becoming an additional source of revenue for the publisher.
3. Is a Lookbook a Catalog or a Magazine?
A lookbook can be a little bit of both, and you can build one and define it however you like. A lookbook probably looks and feels more like a magazine in its focus on images and thematic editorial content. A lookbook can be like a catalog in one way: you can make it shoppable. However, if a lookbook is ever confused with a true catalog, it probably isn’t doing its primary job, which is creating an enticing preview of the upcoming season’s offerings.
4. How Should I Track Performance of Ads in Digital Content?
First, track the ads placed within your digital content based on that particular ad’s or campaign’s goals. So, if it’s a click or sign-up, track those. But if, for instance, the campaign employs a promo code, usage of those should reflect the performance of an ad.
For any ad, however, there are two main factors to consider for context. The first is total reach, or total number of views the digital content is garnering. The second factor is ad engagement, such as dwell time, click-through rate, total clicks. If you start with those metrics, you can segment them out further for better learning on performance.
5. Can I have multiple publications online simultaneously with Zmags?
You can create unlimited publications in the preview stage. In order to publish, you’ll need to activate the publication, though, and that requires a license. De-activating and re-activating that same publication won’t require a second license, but a second new publication will require purchasing an additional license.
These are five of the most frequently asked publishing questions that we’ve seen recently, but are by no means the only ones we’ve seen. If you have any additional questions, let us know and we will help you find solutions to your questions. For more information on how to create the best digital experience possible, visit our world of solutions.
Automation, and not just marketing automation, has evolved rapidly over the last 5 years, and has changed our way of living. It’s transformed our way of thinking, the way we make decisions, and how we interact with others on a day-to-day basis.
In the business world, it has allowed us to be more responsive, make quicker and more efficient decisions, as well as personalize each experience for our clients. Businesses are consuming information, analyzing data and acting on that analysis faster and faster than ever before. But with the ability to automate so many things, it’s easy to lose sight of some of the finer details that really enhance the user experience.
Let’s take digital catalogs for example. Some software solutions that allow you to take a print version of your catalog and make it digital – such as Zmags Commerce – make it easy to create one publication for all digital channels. However, how those publications render on certain devices can create inconsistent experiences. With the consistent rise in use of mobile and tablet devices to shop, it’s critical that you tailor your publications to each device accordingly.
Since mobile devices have a much smaller screen area than the majority of desktop and tablet screens, the design and layout of a digital catalog on a mobile device is something many companies need to take into consideration.
Designs and layouts will vary depending on your product/service, your branding guidelines, and the story you are trying to tell within your publication. Regardless of your unique brand story, though, there are three actions anyone in any industry can take to enhance the user experience when creating digital catalogs for mobile.
1. Limit the Number of Products You Display to 3 or 4 Per Page
If your print catalog features 10 to 15 products per page, it is going to be very problematic for the user to see those products and shop. Even when you zoom in, it can still be challenging to see them and get a good feel for what they really look like. By limiting the number of products you place on a page, you allow the user to see them more clearly.
For example, this is especially beneficial in instances where there are a few products on model (shirt, pants, shoes) that when tapped, open up a product window. You will not have to worry about the user tapping on the wrong product bringing up the wrong window time and time again – they will most likely become frustrated and it could leave a sour taste with the overall experience.
2. Remove Small Text From the Page
Reading small text, such as a product description, on a desktop version of your catalog can prove to be difficult for many. Translate that over to a mobile device and it makes it that much more difficult to read. Now we’re not suggesting you remove all text in general – what we are suggesting is to keep the text on the page, but shorten the sentences or descriptions you have to 2-3 word phrases instead.
This will allow you to still tell your brands story, while making it easier for the user to read the words on each page. You could even use this on the desktop and tablet versions of your digital catalog as well. It can give you the ability to create a visual story which (depending on your product) can be more impactful.
3. Create Unique Calls to Action
You’ve changed the layout of your digital catalog by lowering the number of products you have per page and you’ve updated the text in your catalog as well. Now, you need to let your users know what to do. Creating a unique call to action is the best way to let your users know what action they should take within the catalog.
Some Zmags clients use plus signs, others use targets, and some even use smaller versions (or variations) of their logo. It all really depends on your branding guidelines and what fits best on each page. One thing to keep in mind is to be cognizant of how many you are putting on a page – too many, and it can take away from the overall look and feel of the catalog while creating confusion, not clarity, as to what to do.
While having your digital catalogs render a specific way across multiple channels is a nice automation, it is still important to take the design element into consideration. As automation and personalization continue to become more and more of an essential part of your digital catalog strategy, don’t allow the user experience to suffer – create consistent experiences across all channels that will keep your users coming back for more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To find out who is excelling and who is struggling, Zmags teamed up with Retail Systems Research (RSR) to put together a comprehensive evaluation of 28 top apparel and department store brands.
“For too many retailers, executing a digital channel strategy means taking a print catalog and making it available online.” – Retail Systems Research
How well retailers tell a consistent story across channels
How well retailers leverage digital catalog concepts to create customer engagement
Consistency and leverage – these were the two overriding themes for both objectives in this study. RSR analyzed each retailer’s omni-channel strategies using 16 pieces of criteria to help determine how consistent retailers were and how they were leveraging the digital space.
Here are some of the major findings you will see in this report:
Retailers (traditional, store or catalog-based) are not good with being “brands”, and in the same light, “brands” are not good at being retailers – especially in digital channels.
Digital catalogs represent the greatest opportunity for online retailers; many still do not offer a digital catalog at all.
Those who do offer digital magazines do not fully utilize video, sound or responsive design.
Retailers who fail to occupy their “real-estate” within predominantly digital sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest often open the door to cyber-squatters looking to profit on their brand(s).
“Digital catalog is still an enormous opportunity for retailers…for the retailer that gets it right, the opportunity for reward appears to be substantial.” – RSR
The report concluded that even the high-engagement retailers have a ways to go to be consistent and fully leverage opportunities to connect with customers.
The good news is that there are digital publishing solutions available to help retailers engage more with their customers through multi-channel experiences.
Once November hits, there are a few things that we can bank on: the weather gets colder, the days get shorter, and the buzz starts growing around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Maybe that last one is more for retailers and marketers, but the reach of these commerce-fueled holidays is expanding at such a rate that it would be hard for anyone to ignore them in the coming weeks.
More specifically for e-commerce, sales on Cyber Monday (to no one’s surprise) are expected to hit record highs, with one projection from Business 2 Community totaling around $1.675 billion for that day alone. B2C credits the rise of mobile and tablets – and the subsequent push by brands to be accessible on all devices – for this increase in total sales. Everyone is an online shopper now, not just the person sitting at their laptop or desktop at home.
As Business 2 Community simply puts it “So more potential shoppers equals more possible sales. More possible sales means more total dollars spent.”
Is Your Brand Well Positioned for Shopping Season?
Opportunity abounds for online retailers and marketers during this heightened purchasing period, but success will only come to those who take the right steps with their digital content.
Digital content like a catalog or shoppable lookbook can be befitting to the shopper as well as the searcher. Yes, there is a difference. It is so important to cater to both behaviors during this intensified buying time – online customers come in many shapes, sizes, and behavior paths, so the better coverage a site has for a variety of user experiences, the better that site will perform.
Another key step in being best prepared for this short, powerful buying time is switching out content on the fly. If after one day you see a particular product or editorial spread is yielding extraordinary returns, while another page is getting breezed right over, it is important to adjust your content accordingly to better suit your users’ needs and interests. A platform like Zmags lets marketers and retailers make changes that can be live in a few minutes – ensuring that the right content and products get in front of the right eyes.
Multi-channel deployment and rapid content editing are just two ways retailers and marketers will yield the “more possible sales” alluded to by B2C. Will all your e-commerce initiatives be in place by Thanksgiving week? Contact us immediately for some last minute help.
What do you get when you have a record quarter selling Zmags Commerce Plug-ins for Magento, Demandware, & Hybris when you work for Zmags? You get to witness the Director of Innovation receiving a beautiful new haircut in the everlasting Mullet style.
Zmags Commerce Plug-ins make embedding a publication into your site quick and easy with full multichannel support across web, Facebook, iPad and Android tablets. The Plug-ins also allow consumers to shop entire looks or collections, explore individual products in vivid detail, and experience the brand and merchandise in ways that inspire greater purchases.
And now for the picture that you have been waiting for – the before and after our beloved Director, Chris Swenor. He has pledged to keep this wonderful new haircut for at least a week.