Posts categorized ‘Research’

Digital Catalog/Magazine Benchmark Webinar Recap

Yesterday I led a webinar highlighting key findings from our first Zmags Quarterly Digital Catalog/Magazine Benchmark Report.  (That is a mouthful.  ZQDCMBR?  Not much better!)

zmags-ebookFor anyone interested who was unable to make it, not to worry!  You can still watch the webinar recording anytime.

This new quarterly research study defines digital publication benchmark performance on key metrics.  To stay within my allotted hour, the webinar  focused  primarily on the retail/ecommerce and apparel/fashion industries.  Key points covered in the session included:

1. Online catalogs and magazines are gaining traction with consumers, and mobile traffic to these publications is on the rise — exceeding over 1 in 5 visits to Zmags in 2012

2. Retailers with online catalogs see much higher conversion rates among this segment of shoppers.  In Q4 2012, the average ecommerce conversion rate for digital catalog viewers was 173% higher than website visits that didn’t include the experience.

3. Apparel/fashion digital catalogs performed even better on key metrics than other retail categories.  During the holidays though, competition for these consumers’ time is even stronger than during the rest of the year–so brands need to be creative in order to stand out.


The event had solid attendance and some great questions were asked at the end.  Two worth sharing:

1.  Is it possible to measure the impact of digital publications on in-store traffic?

Yes!  There are a few ways this can be done in Zmags:

a. Include links to your store locator page in your online catalog.  The number of clicks on these links and CTR are indications of the interest in seeing and feeling products in stores that your catalogs are generating.

b. Feature unique codes (discounts, QR), coupons or even products that can only be redeemed in stores.  Calculate total redemptions as a percent of Zmags visits to measure influence and success.  (Then, on shoppers’ receipts, feature a link to your newest online catalog in order to repeat the cycle!)

2.  Where can I find out more information about the benchmarks in my industry, which is automotive?

These and other detailed results are available in our exclusive whitepaper.   To see how Zmags performance varies by industry, see page 9 — which includes key metrics broken down by travel, auto, food and beverage, publishing/media, and more.


Looking ahead, it’s already time to start analyzing the Q1 data!  Our full webinar series schedule can be found here; check back soon to sign up for the Q1 2013 Benchmark webinar!


Our 1st Quarterly Digital Catalog Benchmark Report: 2012 Release & Webinar next week

Next Wednesday, April 10th at 11 am ET/ 4 pm GMT I’ll be leading a webinar about the 2012 Zmags’ First Digital Catalog Benchmark Report.  The findings detailed in this report are aimed at helping Marketers, Content Strategists, Ecommerce leaders, etc. know what to expect to achieve via this type of collateral.

We aggregated performance data across more than 24K online magazines and catalogs that were activated by Zmags customers in 2012 to establish a baseline on key metrics, including:  visitation levels, conversion rates, time spent per visit, and more.  Moving forward, quarterly updates will be released to expand upon these learnings – to help you stay up-to-speed on the latest digital catalog trends and developments over the year.

Here is a sneak peak at some of the key points I’ll cover in the webinar:

  • More than 1 in 5 visits to online magazines and catalogs are from mobile devices (smartphones or tablets)
  • The best-performing online gift guides last holiday season were actually fairly short — fewer than 20 pages — and aimed at specific audiences and segments
  • Plus, hear our top 3 digital catalog/magazine predictions for 2013 (hint:  “one size fits all” is a thing of the past!)

Click here to sign-up if you haven’t already!

Share of visits via mobile device

How the User Interface Drives Sales

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.

The Zmags Serena & Lily Catalog

Are you creating a user interface that drives sales?

Ensuring a Truly Integrated Experience Across Multiple Devices

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.

Little Tykes Zmags Verge

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?

How Online Catalogs Support Personalized Sales

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.

PartyLine Zmags Catalog

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?

Optimized Digital Catalogs Allow Brands to Position Themselves for the Holiday Season

One of the main reasons why digital catalogs have seen a surge in popularity is its ability to showcase products in its natural settings, while providing the consumer with rich insights without disrupting the navigation or the experience.

A catalog that exemplifies such ability is Joules Christmas Lookbook, developed by Zmags. Joules’ new Lookbook, for the winter shopping season, incorporate statement pieces, key looks and outfitting ideas that aims to showcase the wardrobe, and provides the consumer with a fresh flurry of styles, prints and gift ideas.

Joules Holiday Lookbook by Zmags

The catalog highlights the statement pieces in their natural setting. Each product has a tag attached to it, clicking on which will open a pop up that provides a better image of the product, brief product description, the ability to select the color, size and quantity and add the item to the shopping bag. The pop-up drills down to detailed product description, delivery options, information on exchanges, allows the consumer to share the product through various social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and even send an email. All this is without disruption to the catalog navigation, which still remains at the same page, allowing the consumer to resume the shopping experience even after checkout and purchase.

An extensive yet unobtrusive top header menu allows the consumer to locate exactly what they look for and land at the relevant page directly. Alternatively, a footer popup provides a preview of the upcoming pages, providing the consumer with an insight as to what lies ahead even without leaving the current page, useful to make up your mind when browsing! A slide-bar attached to the popup allows for quick and direct navigation to the required page.

Needless to say, catalogs allows brands to position themselves in the best possible manner during this holiday season.

Tablets and Smart Phones Boost Digital News Consumption

The emergence of digital news may result in the death knell for the print news industry. With customers transitioning their loyalty to the digital media, traditional news media is suffering from loss of circulation and consequently ad dollars.

Business news at digital tabletNow a churn is happening within the digital media. Older generation digital devices, such as television, are feeling the heat from newer and more nimble entrants such as the tablets and the smart phone. These new devices leverage the power of the Internet to deliver instant and customized news to consumers, drawing away the consumer’s attention from the stale and generic news content offered by television channels.

The television retained its dominance as the most popular source for news during the desktop era. Even though web browsers delivered real time and customized news to desktops and laptops, the migration from television to the news websites accessed through desktops and laptops was at a steady and gradual pace, primarily owing to the limitations of accessibility and connectivity. However, the emergence of even more flexible and portable devices such as the smart phone and tablets, the development of Internet technology such as wi-fi connectivity and the popularity of news apps that increases convenience multifold has accelerated the pace of migration.

A June 2012 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press place digital mediums just 16 percentage points behind TV as the primary source for news content, among US consumers.

A September 2012 study survey by Mojiva, a mobile ad network, reveals that smart phone and tablet owners still use the laptop, followed by television as their primary source of news, but indications are that this would change shortly.

In fact, television still holding its ground may be due to demographics. The Pew survey reveals that three-quarters of US news consumers ages 65 and older watched news on TV. In contrast, the percentage of respondents in the age group of 18- to 29-year-olds who watched news on television was just over one-third, and this group has actually dropped TV news consumption by 15 percentage points between 2006 and 2012.

Digital news is taking over – what have you noticed about your content consumption habits?

Digital Magazines Allow Marketers to Engage with Customers on a Consistent Basis

Digital magazines are a godsend for marketers in an increasingly competitive world where they seek to capture the customer’s attention on a relatively ‘permanent’ basis.

There are many advantages to having a digital magazine.  It provides a low cost, easy and reliable method to engage with the customers on a regular basis. Apart from regular informative content about the brand, these magazines provide a good opportunity to disseminate news and updates, latest offers and promotions, showcase new products and more. With customers subscribing to such magazines, delivery is more or less guaranteed, a marked improvement from emails or other delivery mechanism where the chances of the customer actually viewing it depends on many factors. Moreover, once downloaded, subscribers can access the content without Internet connectivity, especially useful when on the move.

New digital touch points such as the tablets make digital magazines even more popular. The portability, rich media and dynamic functionality offered by the tablets makes it easier for the consumer to navigate the magazine. Marketers can leverage these same features to provide an enchanting experience for the consumers.

Costco Connection, the monthly lifestyle magazine for the members of Costco, is a good example of a digital magazine. Rather than directly showcase and promote products, the magazine provides articles of general interest and useful tips related to Costco’s services or products available at Cosoco, making the magazine as good and interesting as any other general magazine that a reader would read.


Costco Connection Digital Magazine


The magazine replicates its print version, and as it is with the case of all digital content, provides hyperlinks that allow the reader to delve into any subject or product of interest without leaving the page. It also provides a host of other features including table of contents, search options, a side bar and more to allow readers access the required content directly without having to flip pages.

Can your business use a digital magazine to increase engagement?

The Mobile Shopper Yearns for More

Speed and convenience is not the only thing that drives customers to online shopping. Today’s mobile shopper likes to research reviews, compare prices, and share photos as part of the shopping experience. They consider it a positive and enriching experience when they can do all these in seconds, on-line, and in-store.

Mobile shopper increaseMobile digital touch points such as tablets and smart phones make all these possible. Smartphone and tablet owners use their devices to understand products better and enhance their shopping experience, and the success of the online marketer depends on the extent to which they facilitate the customer in this regard.

A study conducted Moosylvania, an ad agency reveals that 30.1% of smartphone owners research products on their mobile device when away from home, 19.6% do so while watching TV, 13.4% do so on the weekends, 12.4% do so when shopping in-store, 10.9% do so while at work and 2.7% do so when on holidays. Only 10.9% of smart phone owners do not research products before purchase. Of shoppers who research products while in a store, 73.9% compare prices among other retailers.

80% of smartphone owners prefer more mobile-optimized product information even when shopping in conventional brick and mortar stores. Among other mobile optimized tools that provide information and make shopping better, 76% prefer mobile coupons, 44% prefer mobile wallets to make payments, 31% prefer mobile apps, 26% prefer QR codes, 20% prefer text messages, 19% prefer links to informational videos and 17% prefer mobile display ads.

The survey also confirms the multi-device trend – where people access the Internet through multiple channels. 97% of respondents (all smart phone owners) have access to a personal computer and 43% of them have access to a tablet.

Are you appealing to the mobile shopper?

Digital Touch Points Becoming Increasingly Popular with Advertisers

eMarketer estimates that the worldwide digital ad spending is now more than $100 billion. By the end of 2012, the combined digital ad spending for online and mobile channels stood at $102.83 billion, up 17.8% from last year. Furthermore, this spending would increase by 15.1% and touch $118.4 billion by the end of 2013, meaning that about $1 out of every $5 dollars spend on ads will be on the digital media.

mobile advertising statisticsThe share of digital ads is significantly higher in North America, with almost 40 percent of the total ad-spend being on digital channels. In contrast, just 7 percent of the ad dollars is spend on the digital media in the Middle East and Africa. This percentage would double by 2016. The fastest growing digital ad markets however are emerging markets such as Indonesia, India and Mexico – places where the digital ad-spend has a significantly miniscule pie of the total ad spend today.

North American advertisers spend $168 per online user and Western European advertisers spend $112 per online user in 2012.

Among the various digital channels, the spending on ads that appear in mobile channels such as tablets and smart phones are increasing by the day, compared to the ads that appear in desktops and laptops. The increase in the overall digital ad-spend is largely due to the increased popularity of such mobile digital touch points.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau reveals that mobile ad spend increased by 95% during the first half of 2012, to touch $1.2 billion, which is 7% of total online ad revenues, a significant increase from the 4% share in the second half of 2011. With people increasingly accessing the Internet through smart phones and tablets, and advertisers following them there, the share of mobile channels in the total digital ad spend is poised to increase significantly in the near future.

Using digital touch points might be a good place to generate more revenue for your business.