What Digital Natives Can Teach Magazine Publishers

21 Content Marketing Tactics For Magazine Publishers And Marketers

Record sales of iPads and e-readers provide a strong digital platform to support long-form content and provide a forum for the beautifully rendered, high quality graphics distribution for which magazines are known. The popularity of these devices alone won’t be adequate to support the magazine business as it currently exists. Extending these publications online requires a big change in mindset since the competitive playing field has markedly changed to encompass a broad array of media entities, online and offline.

Presentations by executives from Adobe, Zinio, and NXTbook Media at the recent Custom Content Day inspired me to consider how magazines and other print publications can make more successful transitions online. As a result, I put together this list of twenty-one tactics magazine publishers can use to expand their online content’s reach.

  1. Determine topics to be covered online and in print so they complement each other. Think in terms of evergreen and time-specific content. Online doesn’t mean leftovers from your print articles.
  2. Write for an online audience. Among the major considerations are:
    • Think about where and how readers consume your content, such as on a computer, smart phone or iPad /e-reader.
    • Create short, scannable articles that present bite-sized chunks of information in bulleted format. Use search-friendly headlines.
    • Frontload important information to keep readers wanting more.
    • Write a series of connected articles rather than one lengthy piece.
  3. Provide timely information. Lengthy editorial lead times must go since being first to distribute information has value online. Continuously develop content on a regular basis and comment on breaking news as it occurs.
  4. Amend and add to published articles when stories evolve over time.
  5. Expand content with non-traditional media formats such as video, audio, PowerPoints, and Webcasts to reach different segments of your target audience.
  6. Incorporate your target market’s keywords and terms. Use these terms in your titles, content and tags. Write for both the long tail and breaking news. Assess how well optimized your content is for target keywords and how it ranks on search engines for the topics you specialize in?
  7. Link to relevant content, on your site and other sites. Provide links in your articles to give readers background information, support their needs and attract search engines.
  8. Develop link-bait articles to attract in-bound references from other media and blogs.
  9. Optimize non-text media by adding relevant descriptions and keyword tags to support search optimization.
  10. Make every article an entryway to your site with useful navigation, links to related articles and lists of top articles on your site.
  11. Socialize content to attract readers. Use Twitter, Facebook and other social media forms of communications. Don’t forget RSS, e-mail, and text messages since these channels may not overlap.
  12. Start conversations around your content by using comments and bulletin boards. Encourage writers to participate and respond to comments on their columns.
  13. Provide channels for user generated content (UGC). Some media entities have formalized this process. Alternatively, enable consumer submissions of photographs, videos, and text. Include release forms to ensure that you’ve the legal right to share their content.
  14. Make your content sharable by adding social sharing features such as “Tweet this,” “Add to Facebook,” and even “Forward-to-a-Friend.”
  15. Use social media press releases to extend reach of new, unique or newsworthy content.
  16. Leverage content to drive lead generation and affiliate sales. For some publications, this may translate to rethinking how content is categorized and optimized for revenue generation. Many social commerce sites drive revenues in this way.
  17. Offer a variety of advertising options such as banners, video and newsletters. Make these advertising opportunities more effective through better content integration.
  18. Offer tailored advertising opportunities like sponsored forums and content that helps advertisers engage with your audience.
  19. Develop new subscription offerings. Think about offering niche products that leverage your expertise to help customers. Present a variety of formats for subscriptions like newsletters, iPhone apps, and e-readers.
  20. Create related paid non-subscription products. This may require adapting content and editorial expertise to new areas like conferences and books.
  21. Measure results.  Continuously assess your performance and use the results to improve your efforts.
    • Monitor which articles attract the most page views, comments, tweets, etc. Do these metrics vary by subject matter, content format, or author?
    • Assess the quantity and quality of user generated content and engagement. Determine which formats readers use and what factors get them to engage. Examine sentiment and quality of their interactions.
    • Calculate revenues and related expenses for specific initiatives to determine which are profitable. Consider direct associated sales and costs, plus any use of other organizational resources.

While there’s no silver bullet that will save every print magazine, many changes are required to meet the challenges created by the coming dominance of new content delivery systems. To survive and thrive in this increasingly competitive online media marketplace, magazine publishers must learn from the tactics that have made the best online media entities successful.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Photo credit:  Mannobhai via Flickr

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