Posts categorized ‘Magazine’
Today’s digital world is saturated with spam, e-mail, blogs, tweets, posts, reviews and so much more – so is there still any room in this landscape for a digital magazine? At Zmags, we believe there is plenty, and when executed properly, the digital magazine can be an effective tool for driving more traffic and establishing a strong brand identity among customers.
Whether commerce-enabled or media rich (or a combination of the two), digital magazines are still a place for authentic brand building. Magazines offer an opportunity to build engagement, loyalty, and trust, making “add to cart” an easier proposition down the road. The beauty of all this is the transparency to reader behavior. The engagement time, reader behavior and purchasing patterns can all be tracked through powerful online analytic.
Digital Magazines offer up the opportunity to bring a traditional print experience alive. Whether that’s via video, animation, interactive and dynamic content or being able to purchase what you are reading about or is being advertised. All this is available wherever your customer is, whenever they want to consumer it and whatever device they happen to be using.
If readers are able to view the magazine in a channel or format that they are already comfortable being on, then they are more likely to linger there and consume in-depth content. Audi proved this theory true when it integrated its magazine into an easily accessible experience on Facebook. The result: increased readership by 1500%, three quarters of it attributable to Facebook directly.
Beyond increasing readership and exposure, digital magazines can also still support e-commerce initiatives. For those that are e-commerce crazed, magazines can serve as a cultivator of new customers and an introduction to the brand value in a “get them in the door” strategy. Today’s consumer is concerned with engaging experiences and content that adds value – the digital magazine can accomplish both of these when executed properly, providing interactive content across multiple channels and editing in real time.
What separates digital magazines from their print ancestors is not simply easier access and saving paper – it’s the ability to be interactive and create a dialogue. When the brand is listening as much as it is putting forth a message, engagement can occur. When a user can expand or collapse content, select from multiple options of images and videos, and contribute reviews and feedback, there’s a sense of control and empowerment that print magazine readers could never have imagined. That interactivity is what breeds trust and brand loyalty, can be measured and will pay dividends in the long run.
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:
- Easy Design
- Adds Value
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.
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.
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.
An online magazine has to be at once constant and always changing.
Sounds simple, right?
A digital magazine must offer a consistent brand experience across all channels over which it is viewed, but it also must adapt to different formats and devices in order for that brand experience to reach its max potential. In this way, the online magazine must be adaptable in order to remain completely accessible. A chameleon of sorts, a good online magazine changes for its environment. One minute it’s in desktop format, the next it’s on mobile, and the next it’s integrated with Facebook on a tablet. The result? More engagement time, more content viewed per visit and increased repeat readership.
Three things to consider for complete accessibility:
1. Accessible on all devices
Today’s consumers are connected at various touch points. The same person might flip through several pages on one device and pick up where they left off on another. It’s important that there is no drop off in the magazine experience between devices. Tablet users are more likely to read more pages and in general have a longer visit, but mobile users will still be a part of the puzzle and hopefully will expand to other devices if their mobile experience is enjoyable.
Developing an app for an online magazine also can be an effective way to customize the experience, offer offline functionality so that consumers can continue to interact outside of WiFi areas, and set up other hardware functionality like push notifications and geolocation.
2. Accessible on different channels
Don’t just link to your online magazine from your website and hope your readers find it! It’s no secret that many online activities are social. By promoting and making it accessible via social media networks, you’re increasing the likelihood it will be adopted and shared with others.
When people have the opportunity to check out a magazine on their preferred social network, it is an environment where they are comfortable not only consuming content, but sharing it as well.
Audi Denmark partnered with Zmags in order to transform its magazine into a more user-friendly experience on Facebook. The results were staggering: readership increased by 1500%.
Audi Zmags Case Study
3. Access to more!
The online magazine reader wants to interact with a truly digital magazine, not an online copy of a print one. So to simply convert a print magazine into a digital magazine and enable “page-flipping” would be a disservice to the magazine as well as the user…at the expense of their experience with your publication or brand. Not only is it important to utilize a publishing platform to design and optimize for digital in order to create an immersive experience, but an additional benefit of these web-based publications is that you can serve up even more content for anyone who wants it.
While the print version of a magazine is restricted to a two-dimensional, rectangular page, its digital counterpart can layer more on top – such as videos, lightboxes with additional HTML text and images, and links to past issues or advertiser websites. Fresh Living does a great job at this with their digital edition, incorporating recipe downloads and a link to subscribe for the full print version.
While the look and feel of an online magazine must always remain consistent with your brand image, the magazine needs to be accessible in a variety of formats, devices, and applications. That accessibility becomes vital in finding new readers and retaining them.
One of the crucial game changers in online commerce is the user interface. The merit of the product, the innovation of the marketing campaign or the size of the deal offered may all lure customers to the website, but it is invariably the interface they encounter that determine whether they proceed with the purchase or go away.
Marketers have always worked hard to make the user interface as attractive as possible. Successful marketers make sure that such attractiveness does not compromise ease of use. Now, with the advent of multiple digital touch points, marketers need to do more.
Today’s marketers need to offer a clean and intuitive interface that not only caters to seamless engagement and discovery for the customer but also allows the customer to purchase without leaving the catalog. While the focus has always been on allowing the customer to explore or share content-rich pages and dynamic imagery with a quick tap or dab, it is time to allow the customer to move the product to the shopping cart with equal ease. In short, the marketer needs to interpose engagement and commerce to the brand’s online content.
Again, marketers need to not just ensure that they provide a rich and enriching brand experience to customers, but also make sure that such experience remains consistent across all devices through which the customer accesses content.
The new Verge Viewer offered by Zmags facilitates this, as exemplified in the latest catalog of Serena & Lily, the seller of luxury home décor products. The company adopted Verve to provide the next wave of digital experience to its customers. The technology allowed the catalog to sport some intuitive features, such as arresting visuals using maximum available browser space, facilitating swipe based navigation wherein the customers search for products by keyword, accessing the required page with just one swipe or click, and more. The catalog also groups products, displaying the full suite of catalog page below the current page, allowing shoppers to browse or purchase items individually or collectively.
Are you creating a user interface that drives sales?
Consumers now access content through multiple devices. The diversity of touch points is not just limited to devices such as desktops, tablets or smart phones, but also to mediums such as web browsers, dedicated apps, Facebook and others. The challenge before marketers is to not just ensure that their content remains optimized across all these multiple touch points, but also ensure that the content presentation, and by extension, the customer experience, remains consistent across the diverse channels and devices. Side by side, the marketer needs powerful analytic capabilities to understand what works and what does not work, and the extent to which the popularity across content, segregated by touch points, actually translates to revenue.
Little Tykes / Play Power, a seller of playground equipment has deployed Zmags Professional solutions to ensure all these, and more.
Apart from ensuring a consistent brand image across devices and channels, Zmags Verge spruces up the catalog and facilitates slick, tablet-optimized navigation. The attractive visual representation of the playground equipment complete with descriptions and pop-ups to relevant links apart, catalog viewers can configure the playground equipment in different colors and settings, visualize how kids interact in different equipment, mix and match different equipment, read social media reviews, and do more, all without leaving the catalog.
Zmags also provides for a truly integrated experience by allowing the consumer to complete the shopping within the catalog itself, meaning that the consumer can complete the entire marketing lifecycle right from initial product enquiry or curiosity to actually making the purchase and even providing feedback, without having to stray from the catalog at all.
How can you improve your customer lifecycle marketing with digital catalogs?
Today’s customers are highly informed and access information about products through various digital touch points (like online catalogs!) by themselves. The role of the marketer is now to guide the customer through the buying process, to provide them with a good experience in whichever channel or medium they choose, rather than dictate terms. This requires a shift from the product centric marketing campaigns to customer centric campaigns, and this, in turn rests on the marketer customizing the engagement with the customer. At the same time, the marketer also needs to ensure a consistent voice and message across the different channels.
Online catalogs as a marketing tool facilitate this trend, which is evident from the experiences of PartyLine, a niche maker of candles, candle warmers, fragrances and premium home décor products.
The company’s online catalog, powered by Zmags Verge, retains its almost one hundred year old reputation of providing personalized service and striking a lasting relationship with customers. The company managed to create lasting relationships by delivering top quality, sustainable and durable lifestyle and home décor products.
The Verve powered catalog, slick in design and optimized to provide the perfect medium showcase such strengths. The rich imagery that radiate the beauty of the products takes on from where the glossy print catalog left and even improves the experience for the consumer.
The catalog, instead of listing each item on stock, lists only a few products with bigger images, and a curative experience when the consumer browses the catalogue. The company merchandises the products exactly the way they want online shoppers to find them.
A preview tab allows the consumer to see the product coming up next, allowing them to delve into it or side step it to some other product.
The rich, in-depth, flexible and engaging experience offered by Zmags PartyLine catalog gels perfectly with at-home parties where the sales agent connects with the potential clients.
How can you use an online catalog to engage your customers?
Comscore reports that as of April 2012, almost 85 percent of US audience viewed online video. An adult viewer watches 21.8 hours a month on an average and this is double the corresponding figure in 2010.
The emergence of multiple digital touch points with enhanced multimedia capabilities has further facilitated the popularity of videos as a content medium. A 2012 study by the etailing group sponsored by Invodo revels that one in two smart phone users and more than six out of ten tablet users watch one or more product videos in a three month period.
Such a steep increase in the popularity of the video is forcing marketers sit up and take notice. The Social media examiner reports that 76 percent of all marketers plan to increase the space of video in their marketing plans in 2012. This is likely to yield good results, with the Internet Retailer reporting that 85 percent of the prospects who view product videos would most likely make the purchase. Those who view video are 17.4 percent more likely to make a purchase versus those who do not watch videos.
There are many reasons for such a high conversion rates:
- Videos provide the most appropriate engagement medium for those who prefer visual or audible communications over written or verbal communications. Such people constitute about 60 to 70 percent of all shoppers.
- Videos help consumers progress to a “ready to buy” state by educating them with product information and specifications. Evidence suggests that people who watch videos spend more time on the website and engage better. When they purchase, they purchase with confidence, with lesser cart abandonment compared to those who do not watch videos. After making a purchase they are less likely to return the product.
- For the marketer, incorporating video provides an added benefit of improved SEO optimization, resulting in improved search engine ranking and thereby better visibility.
How are you using this medium to increase conversion rates?
The success of many enterprises depends on their ability to sell an experience rather than the actual product. This can be done through digital catalogs. In many cases, the actual product would be standard and undifferentiated among the many providers, and businesses would have to compete on providing their customers with a better experience.
Digital catalogs provide a good way to offer an interactive and engaging experience. Overlaying the dynamism provided by the catalog atop the functionality and the rich media of emerging digital touch points such as the tablets brings to life the content on offer, and is a marked improvement from the experience offered by other channels such as the print catalog, a bland PDF page or even the conventional browser based website.
Country Walkers, an adventure travel company offering itineraries around the world, is a case in point. The success of this company’s online marketing efforts depends on its ability to sell the “experiences” such as guided walking, safaris, biking tours and others rather than the basic tour products such as flights and hotel that anyone can match.
Country Walker’s online catalog, powered by Zmags Professional, engages adventure seekers who search for trips online with invigorating photography, videos, sights and sounds featuring activities, scenery, on-site interviews, cuisine and more, offering a near replica of the actual experience.
The underlying analytics provides rich insights on consumer behavior and trends, allowing the company to fine-tune their strategy. Analytics reveal that visitors to the catalog spend more time and have lower bounce rates compared to the company’s website.
Digital catalogs allow marketers to mesmerize the viewers by transforming a replica of the actual experience to the screen. This however is not the end of the marketer’s job. The marketer also has to ensure that the consumers have easy and seamless access to such content. The ZMags Professional powered Country Walkers catalog, for instance, is embedded into the brand page on Facebook, allowing the brand’s Facebook fans easy and convenient access without having to leave Facebook.
Overall, they’re doing a great job of creating a consistent experience for their customer through digital catalogs.
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?
Brand image matters. Very often, it is the brand image, or the positive perception associated with the brand, that makes customers prefer it to competitor products.
This image or positive perception depends on not just the inherent quality of the product, but also on how the products are showcased to consumers.
Brands invest in high-end photography, glossy papers and high quality prints to position the products in the best possible manner through print catalogs. Digital catalogs allow such brands to replicate the success of print catalogs to the digital media at a fraction of the cost, and even expand on the strengths. However, mere replication of the print catalog rarely works.
To maintain (or increase) a positive brand image, the digital catalog needs to deliver an optimized yet consistent experience across multiple touch points, including tablets, smart phones and tablets.
Digital catalogs needs to highlight the product as close as possible to its natural form, with multiple views of the product, ability to zoom and do more, exploiting all other inherent features of the device. It needs to offer an immersive shopping experience that deepens the experience.
The digital catalog also needs to fuel purchasing at the spur of the moment. Integrating the shopping cart with the catalog allows the overawed consumer to buy the product without having to leave the catalog. Encouraging social sharing across Facebook, Twitter, PinInterest and other channels helps to spread the catalog across people with similar tastes.
An example of a brand that has applied all these is Brahmin. Brahmin, which takes its brand image seriously, features exclusive handbags that are both stylishly beautiful and functional. The new catalog powered by Zmags Commerce Pro and the new Verge experience has successfully transferred the positive brand image from the print catalog to the digital catalog.
How can you use digital catalogs to create a positive brand image?