Online magazines have become an inseparable element of the publishing world and their growth is particularly noticeable today. The reason for this situation is technological development, the increasing popularity of reading on mobile devices, and especially the pandemic situation which has changed people’s needs. However, even in such favorable circumstances, digital magazines need a promotion strategy.
The goal is to continue content delivery in a form attractive to the readers, and monetize even in the difficult times.Regardless of whether you publish a digital magazine separately or as a supplement to the print publication, if you want to make it part of the successful monetization strategy, there’s a necessity to introduce marketing activities. Having great content is just the beginning.
In this article, you’ll find practical pieces of advice on how to promote your digital magazine to achieve an increasing number of readers, subscribers, and sold issues.
Online magazine – does it pay off?
When I’m writing this article, we are all inside the pandemic situation which has affected almost the whole world. Probably, many of you are wondering now if it is a good moment to start, continue, or invest in a digital magazine. Some companies specializing in online publishing solutions started a special service to support magazine publishers affected by Covid-19.
The present situation has had a considerable influence on publishing. Print distribution and, therefore, profits from it are melting while costs remain the same. Advertisers are losing trust in traditional publications. Simultaneously, readers are stuck in their homes, buying goods online. And they need access to the current news as never before.
Digital publishing isn’t actually replacing print but becomes a way to ensure people that they will always have secure access to information. For publishers, opening to the new distribution channels can be an additional source of new types of readers and another channel for earning.
Digital magazine promotion is the first step to start with.
How to promote a digital magazine?
1. Give people content for free to show its value
I don’t mean free magazine distribution, but rather distinguishing between the paid content and the free content. The goal of sharing free articles or fragments of issues is drawing attention to your brand and attracting readers. This activity shows people what you really offer, allows them to get to know you, your magazine, and the quality it represents. Only then will people want more and be ready to pay for it.
What content can you distribute for free?
- Old magazine issues. Here digital publishing has an advantage over the print. Online libraries contain a lot of content which was published years ago, while buying past print releases in traditional kiosks is almost impossible.
- Articles that were published a long time ago. In a word, publish evergreen content, something that doesn’t lose its value. The articles can be refreshed periodically to attract readers again and again.
- Magazine samples or previews. This is the best way to show people what’s inside before they decide to subscribe. No one wants to buy a pig in a poke. This is a strategy used by Magasinet Norske Hjem, a Norwegian interior magazine, both on their website and in the mobile app.
Magasinet Norske Hjem offers preview option on their website
- Covers of issues which are not published yet. They should be designed in such a way as to catch people’s eyes regardless of the screen size, to generate clicks and downloads and as a result, trigger sales. The digital covers have the potential to become viral, too. Personally, I love New Yorker’s digital covers most of which are actually… gifs.
How does the distribution of free content compare with the paywall monetization strategy?
If you want to monetize thanks to paywall without resignation from giving free content, choose the model called “the soft” or “metered”. It’s based on offering a specific number of free access articles – to read more a paid subscription is required a paid subscription. It is the most popular model in the United States – 63% of the media have put it in place. This paywall strategy is successfully used by the New York Times.
2. Diversify distribution channels to make content more visible
Digital magazine readers can come from the community gathered around you and your brand – they are subscribers to your newsletter, social media followers and friends, podcasts listeners, blog readers, fans of your public appearances, or print issues buyers. That’s why it’s important to share all of the above mentioned free pieces of the content in different places.
Where can you publish free content to expand your magazine visibility?
- LinkedIn. This is a great place for publishers and authors to increase their publications readership. Conscious and systematic building of a personal brand on LinkedIn will naturally result in an increase of interest in a magazine you publish or a book you wrote.
- Other social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. They allow people to share content easily. You can publish article teasers, fragments of texts, covers, updates, etc. Remember to add to the post a link to your blog, website or the digital kiosk. It’ll direct readers to your own sources. Look how Essentials Magazine Australia does it on Facebook.
Essentials Magazine Australia puts a link to their own sources in Facebook posts
- Your blog or website. They should include information about where/how to buy your magazine. Create a bold “subscribe” button on your website, so that users can easily take action. If you publish print and digital issues simultaneously, place them side by side in the subscription form. You can also be inspired by Seth Godin who sells hundreds and thousands of his self-published books by content distribution diversification tactic.
- Newsletter. Put a simple, non-aggressive, non-invasive pop-up on the bottom of the website, informing about getting a free bonus or announcing a newsletter including free tips and articles (in exchange for an email address). In one word, prepare the value that will be of interest to your website visitors. Get inspired by the varied Guardian newsletter offer. They are masters in preparing offers tailored to the individual needs of their readers. To create and send the bulletins you can use a tool called Mailchimp.
Guardian offers a wide range of newsletters
3. Promote every digital magazine issue before its launch
Before film producers release a new project, they present a movie trailer. The goal is clear – encourage people to go to the cinemas, buy tickets, and watch the film.
My tip for you is to be like a movie producer.
Esquire, at one time, prepared such trailers which you can find on YouTube. However, it doesn’t have to be a video. Prepare some intriguing proposals before the launch of your magazine issue that will encourage people to buy your publication. It could be one of the following:
- fragments of the best content which hasn’t been published yet and which will spark the discussions under a social media post,
- videos or photos from behind the scenes of an interview, unpublished or additional material,
- a discount offer for social media users (in exchange for sharing the content/a post) or newsletter readers (in exchange for signing in).
When your new issue is ready to be launched, send a push-notification in a mobile app or email with the information on how to get it; remind people about your magazine also on social media channels. In all these cases, always include links redirecting to the digital kiosk where your readers can buy the issue.
4. Use the power of your print magazine versions
If you want to publish digital issues simultaneously with a paper magazine, make the two promotions complement each other. Print publications could be a great marketing channel informing about digital versions.
- Use QR codes integrated with print versions of your magazine. They are a fantastic way of linking offline readers to your online version. Put the code on the print version of the publication or any other marketing material. They can be implemented to direct your audience to your online edition kiosk or rich media expanding the print content.
- Sell print and digital together offering a special price to the readers that buy both. Just imagine how exciting it could be for customers to also get a digital edition for the price of a print one. Who among us doesn’t like two-for-one offers?
- Refresh old issues archive in a digital form. You can also use pay-to-read platforms to publish your old print magazine issues which are already unavailable in print. The biggest advantage of such platforms is the possibility of reading back issues via search functions in an online archive.
5. Answer your digital audience’s needs
Being up to date with analytics is important on every stage of publishing a magazine.
Data analyzing is the key to increasing promoting efforts. The better you know your audience, the easier it will be to keep them and reach new ones. Investigate what content your users read most often, what is most often shared, and what social networks your readers are most active on.
Use this knowledge to tailor content to readers’ interests and prepare better marketing strategies.
Thanks to the possibility of analysis, you can answer the following questions:
- Which content and actions are the most popular among your readers?
- How do they discover your content and what distribution channel you should invest in?
- What types of content or categories generate the most subscriptions sales?
- How did the visitors, who became paid subscribers, reach your site?
With answering these questions, you can adapt your digital magazine’s promotion strategy to improve conversion rates. This is the moment when Google Analytics is invaluable.
Digital magazine promotion – the game worth playing
No matter if we speak about a blog post, a magazine, or a book, all of them need promotional activities to be read by many people. The content alone, no matter how great it is, is not enough to achieve more readers or higher sales. You need to help them a little.
A lot has been said about promoting digital magazines. The tips above aren’t complete marketing strategies; they are direction indicators, pieces of advice, and inspiration. By actively employing them in your promotional strategy, you’ll increase your chance to make your magazine more visible and wanted, you will also see which activities you should continue to achieve the best results.
There’s nothing left for me to say but to wish you good luck in promoting your magazine.