Many brands understand the importance of digital presence and invest much effort in their online magazines. However, such efforts do not yield any perceptible results to either the bottom line or the brand image without a sizable readership base. To attract people to their digital magazine, merely replicating the print version of the magazine into a digital format and providing some hyperlinks are not enough.
Today’s customers are more demanding and seek to make informed decisions. They not only look out for an enhanced digital experience that would make their quest easy and seamless, but also require high level of access and in-depth information.
To provide a positive experience that would attract new consumers and make existing consumers come back, brands need to bring to life the imagery and editorial content of the digital magazine. One way to do so is by making the online magazine interactive and dialogue based. Most online buyers in today’s digital age consider the one-way monologues that characterize the traditional print magazines as drab and a drag on their efforts to seek relevant knowledge fast.
Seamless accessibility of the content across multiple touch points such as iPad and smart phones is a basic requirement. Brands need to go further and ensure easy accessibility and seamless integration with popular channels, especially social media channels such as Facebook, as well.
At the back end, the brand needs to power the online magazine with a powerful analytics engine that would allow them to monitor results and make tweaks based on what viewers prefer in real time.
Today’s consumers are fickle and spoilt for choice. If they do not get the experience they seek for, they waste no time in moving elsewhere. The challenge for the brand is to anticipate what consumers want and provide it upfront, or failing that make amends in double quick time before the consumer gets around to trying someone else.
Audi Denmark applied all of these to good effect using Zmags Professional. Audi launched a new refurbished magazine in November 2010 and embedded the same into Facebook, to provide consumers with an interactive and attractive brand experience through a medium to which they are anyway using. By November 2011, the magazine increased its viewership by a whopping 1500 percent, with three out of every four views coming from Facebook.
How can an online magazine help your brand?
Valentine’s Day is upon us, and although some may consider it a “Hallmark Holiday,” recent data proves that retailers need to take it very seriously. The National Retail Federation reports that Cupid’s big day actually ranks second among holidays for consumer spending, only behind the Christmas season. And, as reported in USA Today, people will spend an average of $126.03 on gifts for their loved ones, 8.5% more than last year. In total, spending on the holiday is expected to reach $17.6 billion. Clearly, chocolates and roses just aren’t going to cut it anymore.
In fact, one of our customers, Not On The High Street.com is offering some inspirational gift items through their Valentine’s Day Gift Guide, made available both on their website and Facebook page. Consumers can browse through unique items, and make their purchases without ever leaving Facebook. With over 20,000 Facebook fans, Not on the High Street is maximizing the potential of this loyal customer base, helping their followers discover the perfect gifts for their loved ones, beyond the local florist.
Facebook signs payment services deal with Bango
On the subject of Facebook commerce, last week mobile payments firm Bango announced that it has signed an agreement to provide payment services to Facebook. Facebook and Bango are not yet discussing the specifics of the deal, but the implication is clear. We will soon see more retailers like Not on The High Street.com, in addition to what we’ve already seen from Express and Kenneth Cole, using Facebook as a platform for commerce.
For many brands, Facebook has become a key marketing tool. It’s not unusual for thousands, or even millions, of people to “like” a brand’s Facebook page. Generating likes, shares and comments certainly help reinforce brand preference via social media. But too many brands are stopping there, treating their Facebook pages as little more than extended blogs. Why aren’t more brands actually selling from within Facebook?
According to a recent Zmags study, more than 80 percent of today’s connected consumers are active Facebook users and more than 40 percent follow their favorite brands on Facebook. In addition, 34 percent of tablet owners said they were already shopping on Facebook. Given these stats, it’s evident that Facebook represents an enormous opportunity for retailers and brands to convert social goodwill into revenue.
Express sells directly from its Facebook Catalog
Just recently, NRF’s Jennifer Overstreet interviewed Lisa Gavales, CMO of Express (and a Zmags customer) about how Express is pioneering Facebook commerce by making its digital catalog a part of its fans’ Facebook experience. When asked what made Express jump into Facebook commerce, Gavales responded: “Our customers are savvy and experimental, so we have to be too… The downside to having Facebook commerce was low, and the potential upside was high. We like to be at the beginning of the parade, and if there’s not too much risk in being there, we will be. At the very least, we’ll be there sizing up the opportunity.”
When asked about Express’ use of photos, video and music, Gavales states: “As a purveyor of apparel to customers in their 20’s, being on the cutting edge is critical… We work towards creating a more three dimensional vision of who we are and what we do.”
Express clearly has a strong head start, recognizing the value not only in creating an overall Facebook experience that appeals, but also in turning that experience into a storefront that drives revenue.
Express’ strategy reflects an overall move away from directed commerce, which is search and price driven, to discovery shopping, which is based on creating a guided environment that more closely mirrors the in-store shopping experience. Whether on Facebook, a tablet or the web, delivering a visually rich and immersive shopping experience naturally inspires more browsing leading to product discovery, inspiration and ultimately, fuller shopping bags.
Express gets it. Who’s next?