Posts categorized ‘Digital Publishing’

We Have Met The Enemy, And His Name Is… Complexity.

In today’s consumer-centric ecosystem, brands can be made or broken by their digital presence alone. One well-timed Tweet can elevate a brand’s perception, positioning them as authentic, relevant and personable—just as a poorly informed post can cause immediate and widespread damage. And it’s not just social media—every aspect of a brand’s online presence is immediately visible to the entire connected populace, and is closely critiqued by loyalists and detractors alike, making it critical to be able to measure sentiments and respond accordingly.

In light of the expanding necessity for deep-dive monitoring of this type of customer engagement, a plethora of solutions have emerged in recent years to deliver the insights that brands are demanding.

A short list for brands of all sizes is certain to include:

ŸŸ•  A CRM system to monitor and track engagement levels through the sales cycle
º    Eg. perennial favorite,
•  Lead Generation, Scoring & Tracking platforms
º    Eg. Marketo, Pardot, Silverpop (and more!)
•  Social Media monitoring & sentiment gauges
º    Eg. Hootsuite, Klout, Parllay, NetPromoter Score (and more!)
•  Website Engagement & SEO Monitoring
º    Eg. GoogleAnalytics, KISSMetrics, RavenTools, Moz (and more!)
•  Digital Ads Analytics & Monitoring
º    Eg. Google AdWords, SEMRush, WordStream (and more!)
•  Email & Outbound Communication Facilitation & Analytics
º    Eg. Marketo, Pardot, ExactTarget, ConstantContact, MailChimp (and more!)

With all of the options available, how could anyone not be targeting their customers correctly? The answer is truly the lack of one key component: integration.

As we discussed in my previous blog, integrating tools into a unified platform is a difficult proposition for many companies. However, this type of unified platform, rather than a “best practice”, is now a nearly ubiquitous “must have” for companies across the board.

In fact, the vast majority of these tools are only capable of realizing their true potential when integrated with other platforms. Imagine, for example, if your company utilized all of the tools mentioned above as wholly separate entities. Without the insights generated by monitoring your brand’s digital presence across the web, your sales team is left to operate off of conjecture. Your marketing team moves forward knowing that something isn’t working, but has little or no data on which to base decisions, and therefore has no idea on how to fix it. The lead pipeline dries up, your current customers lose their always tenuous belief in your relevancy, and your competitors dance on your company’s grave, alongside the plot where’s sock puppet was laid to rest.

Now, consider the alternative—utilizing key tools at your disposal in concert, leveraging the myriad of insights to develop a real strategy, and monitoring all of your channels with an eye towards constant improvement.

Let’s take an easy example. Your company is leveraging three tools: Google Analytics/AdWords, Marketo and Salesforce. With Google Analytics, you’re monitoring engagement to identify the most interesting information for your customers. With that data, you build out a content and creative campaign based on the most vital information to two different customer sets, and disseminate your communications through Marketo to measure their performance. Based on a few unique identifiers, your sales team is able to score each prospect and assign them a priority for follow up through, all while additional nurturing communications are feeding prospects a steady stream of information and calls to action, bringing them further into the “buying funnel”.

As long as any new tools are able to integrate into your existing platform, you stand a good chance at adding value without complexity—the promised land of marketing technology. Following this formula, you dance on your competitors’ graves, adjacent to the lonely grave where Oreo buried Hydrox.

Take Zmags’ Prism platform. All of our products connect directly into our proprietary analytics and Google Analytics, enabling brands to measure engagement at as granular of a level as desired—from simple page views, clicks, time spent per page and purchase conversions, all the way down to exactly where viewers are spending their time within your content—making it a true value-add, and not a mere complexity-add.

Of course, the challenge is allowing for the up-front time needed to set up all of your tools to “play nice” with each other — an outwardly daunting challenge. Done correctly, you’re talking about cutting effort in half, mapping your sales teams’ efforts automatically, and changing your prospecting efforts from a gamble to a “sure thing”. Are the results worth the up-front time investment? You bet.

How to Optimize your Zmag for SEO

You optimize your website, blog posts and articles for SEO, so why not your online publications. SEO is a key element of your Zmag distribution, which is why we utilize market-leading processes to optimize the deliverability and search-ability of publications by search engines. So how does it work within the Zmags software you ask?


When a Zmag is created, the Publicator system automatically sends text phrases together with the URL to Google through a service called Sitemaps. When Google indexes a catalog, the Zmags’ Publicator tool makes the text within the publication available to the indexing spiders. That being said, we cannot precisely say when Google will index the publication, but there are steps you can take in order to speed up the process:

  • Set up external and internal links through your website and other websites to help the ranking.
  • Make sure the page text is relevant to your publication content.

Optimizing your Zmag for SEO also depends on your configuration. For example, Zmags on unique pages optimize actual publication content. You can switch on search engine indexing within the Viewer configurations and submit your publication URL to major search engines to make it searchable.

For Zmags with an embedded viewer or iFrame – meaning a specific page within a website – you should concentrate on SEO efforts for the HTML page the publication is embedded within. This is pretty easy to do and as an added benefit, search engine traffic is pointed to your webpage that benefits from the SEO of your existing site structure.

There are a couple specific areas that can be configured to help optimize your publication – browser title/title tag and the publication page text. The browser title/title tag page is one of the most important factors in SEO, as the title tag is what appears in the search engine results page (SERP) when your publication is found.

No matter what type of publication you are distributing, you can always benefit from SEO. If you want to learn more about how you can benefit from Zmags’ Publicator tool, let us know and we’ll be glad to show you the many benefits Zmags has to offer.

The Importance of Calls-To-Action in Digital Publications

Calls-to-action (CTA) are designed to provoke behavior – register, sign up, download, etc. An effective CTA is an essential part of any effective business communication. A digital publication should have at least one CTA on every page. They should be very clear about what you are asking the customer to provide and very, very clear about what you will deliver in return.

By including a well-placed, well-designed and well-considered CTA, your readers will have a straightforward and convenient way of communicating with you. A variety of actions can help them express the degree of their interest and indicate what sort of product or service they are interested in.


Remember, a catalog request it quite different from a whitepaper download. One suggests urgency, while the other suggests contemplation. Make both available so that each sort of prospect can request the material that is appropriate to them.

When you add a clear CTA or two on each page – preferably designed as buttons separated from other content – there’s less distraction for the reader, which means you’ll see better overall response rates. As always in online marketing – and in digital publications as well – less is more.

How important are clear CTAs? Spanx is a great example of a brand that clearly shows CTAs in their digital publications. Each CTA – which is an image of a shopping bag – opens up a lightbox when clicked or tapped. From there you can purchase the item, which goes directly into your shopping cart.


Having well-defined CTAs can positively impact your digital publications’ performance and increase your ROI. Every brand has different styles and types of CTAs they use. Which types of CTAs have proven to be successful for you and your brand?

Want Better Social Commerce? Maximize Every Touchpoint

Increasingly, consumers are using multiple types of connected devices throughout the course of their day – sometimes even simultaneously. Nielsen research found that 43% of tablet owners and 46% of smartphone owners said they use their device while watching TV.

Clearly, web browsing and shopping activities are extended more frequently across desktop and mobile devices. A May 2013 Kentico Software study, highlighted by Marketing Charts, found that 87% of tablet owners use their tablets to browse for products online with 41% doing so at least once a month and 12% doing so more than once a week.

Channel Images

Some retailers have yet to catch up with these trends – you can see which ones have not yet caught up in our ‘Evolution of Retailers Digital Touchpoints’ report. A 2013 report by the Search Agency states that 44 of the Fortune 100 companies still do not have a mobile optimized version of their website. The rest are relying on their standard websites to deliver an “adequate enough” tablet shopping experience.

Adequate enough for whom however? Shoppers need to be engaged and delighted whenever they are shopping in a store, online or through a catalogue. The online experience breaks down even further, across platforms (website, social media) and device type (desktop, tablet, smartphone).

To capture the full commerce opportunity – and rise above an increasingly crowded pack of competitors – companies will need to optimize their product catalogues, storefronts and back-end transactional systems for multiple media.

What are you – or your company – doing to maximize every touchpoint? 

LOVE-ly Digital Catlaogs for Valentines Day

It’s that time of year again – the time when men scurry at the last minute to find that perfect Valentine’s day gift. No need to worry, we have you covered. Well, our clients have you covered with engaging and inspiring digital catalogs filled with great ideas for Valentines Day gifts. Take a look below at some of our favorites:

Liz Earle

This digital catalog showcases various beauty products such as facial creams, lotions, perfumes, and much more. Liz Earl has created a unique toolbar at the top of their viewer allowing you to search, share on Facebook, and download the catalog.





Get a glimpse of their new Valentine’s collection in this publication and become inspired to get the love of your life the charm, necklace, ring or bracelet that she’s been asking for. But you don’t have to go in-store or open a new browser to their website. Utilizing the external link functionality with the Zmags Publicator tool, Pandora has linked all of their products to specific product pages so you can essentially purchase items without leaving the catalog page.




Anagram Balloons

Nothing says, “I love you” like a nice bouquet of…balloons.  It’s unique and it sends just the right message, precisely like this digital catalog. With hundreds of balloon options and combinations, Anagram Balloons has provided a clean, clear and inspiring selection of balloons specific to Valentine’s Day. Download specific pages, or email them to yourself or a friend. Zoom capabilities allow you to act quickly and effectively with your purchase.





Figis has been offering distinctive candy gift packages since 1944, and more recently through their digital catalogs. See something you like? Hover over the image with your mouse (if you’re on your desktop) or tap the image with your finger (if you’re on your phone or tablet), and get brought right to that product’s description page to make your purchase. If you feel the need to share, click the ‘Share’ button in their top toolbar and share ideas with friends and family.




No matter what gift or gifts you choose, the ability to get the perfect gift more quickly and easily than ever before is right at your fingertips…literally. With the ever-growing use of digital catalogs, brands are making it easier to find those last minute gifts.

How have digital catalogs helped you find the products and/or services you’ve been looking for when you have been in a jam?

Create an Engaging Digital Lookbook in 4 Simple Steps

The demand from consumers for digital content is growing rapidly month-by-month. Seamless experiences from device-to-device, in-store and online are becoming something of a norm and brands are expected to deliver these experiences without a hitch. The problem is that it’s much easier said – and expected – than done.

Sure, a print catalog in a static digital format on your website that is Tweeted out and posted on your Facebook fan page is a step in the right direction, but there is nothing engaging about it. Providing your users with an experience on your website or social media sites is one thing, but creating an inspiring and engaging experience through multiple channels is something that can set your brand apart from the rest.

Ready to start engaging your users on a different level than you have in the past? Follow these 4 steps to get you started on creating inspiring and memorable experiences.

1. Create Your Lookbook

You might be thinking, “I already have a publication. Can’t I just upload it through your software?”. Yes you can; however, print catalogs do not always translate well into a digital lookbook format so it’s recommended that you make sure the look, feel and layout work across all platforms. Depending on your skill set and available tools you have you might have to work with your design and brand teams to create the publication, but in the end, you will have an outline you can use moving forward.

Sales Enablement Tool Image

Use this opportunity to makeover your print catalog so you can create consistency across multiple channels. When designing your publication, keep in mind the fact that users will be viewing your lookbook on mobile devices as well. Larger images and text will allow the user to have a more enjoyable experience and allow them to engage with the publication on a unique level.

Once your publication is completed, you’re ready to move on to the second step.

2. Link Your Product Information

Leveraging existing product quick views or re-purposing product information directly from your website to display content into a pre-built lightbox gives your users the ability to shop and checkout right from your lookbook. A simple sync with your current eCommerce platform will allow you to link your products through tools, such as the Zmags publicator tool.

You don’t have to worry about re-creating product information since the tool is pulling the information directly from your eComm platform. Any changes made through your platform will show up within the product windows in your lookbook, which eliminates you having to go into multiple platforms to make minor updates.

Now that the publication has been created and is linked, it’s time to move to the third step in the process.

Sub Zero Showcase 2

3. Add Rich Media and Interactivity

What is ‘rich media’? Simply put, it is video, HTML5 elements, hotspots, and internal inks that you can add to your lookbook to create the best user experience possible. With video you can showcase your products in action, which gives that element of interaction that static product images cannot provide. Some brands have even chosen to incorporate 360-degree views of their products as well.

Internal links can help you build a navigational path you want the user to take on their journey through your lookbook. Think of it as how you would design the layout for your store – in this case you are creating a store layout, but digitally.

You have added links and rich media elements to the lookbook you have created; now there’s only one thing left to do!

4. Publish Your Lookbook  

It’s up to you and your brand as to how you want to promote your digital lookbook (email, in-store notifications, links on your website, etc.), and ultimately where you want to showcase the end product. A dedicated page on your website (including mobile versions of your site) is the obvious place to start, but there are a number of other places where you can showcase your lookbook.

audi magazine

Through Zmags, you can publish your lookbook on your Facebook fan page giving your followers instant access as if they were right on your website. They can browse, shop and even checkout, then share their experience with other followers or their friends. Think about it – if you have 50,000 followers, that is 50,000 targeted opportunities you have to showcase your lookbook. That kind of reach is hard to get, so take advantage of the opportunity you have at hand!n

While this isn’t an extremely detailed step-by-step process – our Account Management and Customer Success team can walk you through the fine details of that – it is a process to show you how quickly and easily you can get a lookbook, catalog, or brochure up and functioning across multiple channels.

Engaged users are more likely to spend more time browsing through your lookbook and in your store as well – longer engagement equals higher likelihood of a purchase. And better yet, it increases the likelihood of future purchases as well. Making a connection with your users in a way that your competitors are not is an excellent step in the direction of making that user a lifelong customer.

What are some unique ways you are engaging with your users?

Drive New Revenue Opportunities with Existing Online Content

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to add a new source of revenue to your existing revenue stream, utilizing content you already have? Some brands are already doing this – and quite well might I add. However, there are many brands still missing the opportunity to leverage their existing online content to drive new revenue opportunities.

Tablet Shopping

If you have a PDF of a catalog or brochure on your website now…

…you could leverage that existing content to create a digital catalog or online brochure that is shoppable, or at the very least, able to be viewed across multiple devices and channels. Providing your users with the opportunity to view your content digitally can lead to new revenue opportunities you once did not have. Better yet, if you wanted to sync your eCommerce platform with the products in your online digital catalog, your users can shop and checkout right from the catalog.

Think about how many times you seen a user look at your site on their mobile phone and leave without making a purchase, or worse, add to their cart and never checkout? Now think about how many revenue dollars that might have cost you and your brand; it’s probably costing you more than you think.


If you have videos that feature your product and/or service…

…you could incorporate that into your existing online publications. Giving your users a unique look at what you have to offer through video, can give them a better sense of what they are purchasing. It also allows for longer engagement times, which increases the chances of your users making a purchase, which can result in revenue – new revenue.

By attaching a video to the story you’re telling through your online publications, you are able to leverage your existing online content. In fact, it can even be more useful in a publication as opposed to sitting in the ‘Videos’ section of your website or on a YouTube channel.

Having all relevant pieces of content in once place – such as a digital catalog – that tell a compelling story, you are putting your brand in a position to take full advantage of the content you have already created. How are you leveraging existing content to drive new revenue opportunities?

If you’re not using existing content to drive new revenue, or if you’re not sure where or how to start, let the consultants at Zmags help you discover new ways to drive revenue…and help you look like a revenue rock star in the process!

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

In the first part of this two part series, we learned just how hectic the schedule is for retailers in the first half of the calendar year. The summer trends discussions start, spring fashions are previewed and launched, outdoor décor and home improvement ideas come to light, and even holiday planning begins in the later part of June.

What we’re about to learn in the second part of this series is that the second half of the year does not get any slower for retailers. Getting ready for back-to-school, the fall, and the holiday season are a few key areas in which retailers in general, focus their efforts. Let’s take a look at how digital magazineslookbooks, and online catalogs fit into the equation for the second half of the year.



The summer months are where retailers focus on ‘Back-To-School’ promotions. They are finalizing and distributing their digital magazines sometime in mid to late July, and making a push for it through the end of August. Early fall season (home décor, home improvement, winterizing the home) promotions will start at the end of August and run through early October.

For the very savvy retailers, holiday online catalogs and lookbooks are finalized – that’s right, finalized! In the first part of this series, we suggested that retailers start uploading (but not publish) mockup publications to see how they would look online before finalizing them. Now that they are finalized, retailers can go ahead and get a jump-start by uploading – and if possible, start linking – their publications within the Zmags Publicator tool.


With school back in session and the summer months an almost distant memory, the September/October timeframe marks the homestretch for the retailer calendar year. September is when retailers begin to get winter home and outdoor décor promotions up and running, finalize and distribute Halloween promotions, and continue with fall promotions.

October shapes up to be a very important month for retailers, because this is the time when Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotions are discussed and finalized. Having the ability to be agile with these two promotions is critical. Being able to quickly link or make immediate updates to a flyer or circular is beneficial, and can be done easily with the Zmags software.



In the final two months of the year, retailers have to be on their toes making sure their eCommerce enabled sites and online catalogs are performing correctly, they are making the necessary price adjustments, and they are monitoring the success of their promotions/campaigns. However, that’s not all that is required of them during this time.

Retailers have to start thinking about what they are going to do with the excess holiday inventory – sales, promotions, creating circulars or flyers specifically for the inventory. They are also making decisions on Valentines Day promotions, and believe it or not, the spring inventory (clothes, outdoor/indoor décor, recreational products) is being mapped out and finalized as well.

So as you can see, the life of a retailer is anything but boring. Months and months of planning goes into creating remarkable online shopping experiences, and we as consumers sometimes don’t realize how far in advance – and how hectic – the planning and decision making begins. Solutions such as Zmags offer a bit of relief for retailers, saving them time and resources when producing and promoting their publications.

Retailers – how has Zmags helped save you time and what advice can you give other retailers that are not yet taking advantage of all the benefits this software has to offer?

HTML5 Animation – Cross Platform Bliss

With more and more consumers adopting the latest and greatest tablets, smartphones, and laptops, having digital content that will reach and perform for your target audience has become increasingly important for many companies.

Brahmin Example

This is where HTML5 animation and content comes in – with increasing online engagement, marketing opportunities and shopping on mobile devices, it is important to adopt this robust technology for cross-platform compatibility. The Zmags Widgetizer provides an easy avenue to create HTML5 animations within a Zmag – no coding experience required!


Simply adding some color and motion to your online publications can generate interactivity and engagement levels your brand has not experienced before.

Zmags is always looking to add to and improve upon features and functionalities to the Widgetizer, so be on the lookout for new and exciting HTML5 animation capabilities in the near future. Let us know how you Widgetize!

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.