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3 Digital Publishing Secrets

  |  May 27, 2011   |  Comments

And five questions you should be aware of and able to comment on as your digital publishing efforts grow.

As those of us in publishing embrace this brave new world of digital content, we uncover "a-ha" moments with every new move we make. The principals of publishing that have delighted customers for decades remain the same. Now there is even more opportunity. The world of digitally-delivered, dynamic, convenience, and mobile content engages readers for longer periods of time and in new ways. What are the top three secrets of digital publishing you need to know? Keep reading and find out.

  1. Location, location, location: You don't sell or distribute your print magazine in just one location – why would your digital distribution be any different? Making your digital publication available on all mass consumer operating systems and screen sizes is and will remain critical to success. Get early learnings now to understand new purchase and engagement behaviors to fuel your decisions for future development.
  2. Kevin Costner lied to us in "Field of Dreams": The famous line from this movie is "If you build it, they will come." That works in baseball, but not with digital publishing. One of the hardest lessons learned by most digital publishers is that marketing and merchandising content via apps requires consistent spend, and there is no magic bullet just yet. Creating a dynamic product that supports an efficient workflow is the first step. But equally as important is understanding that you are committing to marketing the app through in-app, digital, and offline channels when your app goes live. And, as more and more apps grow, beating the app store clutter is going to become even more critical.
  3. Your website is your secret weapon: It's true. For digital publishing, your website (which your company has spent millions to build and maintain) is key to sustained success. It's very simple and effective to integrate website links to polls, blogs, sharing, and other dynamic and interactive content into your digitally-published content. In fact, some of the most forward-thinking publishers like Seventeen have run dynamic feeds from their website into their magazine app in order to incent readers to open the issue daily for refresh deals and information. If you haven't started thinking about your website as a supplement and enabler to your digital content, you should.

Now that you know the secrets, you should probably familiarize yourself with the top questions you will be asked to answer, or comment on as your digital publishing efforts grow. How many of these can you answer?

  1. What is your international distribution and pricing strategy? Will a one-price-fits-all market be acceptable to your local licensees?
  2. What percent of your current print subscribers have bought at least one other title digitally in the past year? (What is the propensity to buy?)
  3. How much in bandwidth costs does your digital publication cost? And will that be an issue if your readers' carriers limit bandwidth for those getting close to their plan?
  4. How do you market differently to a brand fan vs. a digital reading fan who has yet to discover your digital content for the first time?
  5. How do you speak, on a personal level, to your engaged app users who have not given you opt-in permission?

If you have thought through and formulated an answer for these already, you are ahead of the pack. If not, don't panic. You have time to learn, but you need to get started asking the tough questions now.

Good luck!

P.S. Got a question to add? Post it here and I will publish a list of the top digital publishing questions you need to be ready to answer. This list will be presented with answers from a panel of experts in a webinar on August 4 (save the date info coming later).



Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen is the vice president of marketing at NOOK by Barnes and Noble, focused on business growth and customer acquisition. 

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