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Stepping Backward Moves You Forward in Digital Publishing and Mobile Apps

  |  February 3, 2012   |  Comments

Create an innovative user experience that leverages content from archives of a strong brand or legacy.

There are very few times when going backward is ever a good decision. In digital publishing and mobile apps however, going backward can be one of the best decisions you have ever made. The concept of digital reading is still in the early days of building a strong market share with consumers. And, while app adoption is growing at record rates, it is still new.

Some of the most successful digital publications and apps kick-start their results by relying on a combination of creating an innovative user experience that leverages content from archives of a strong brand or legacy.

One of the most popular apps in today's market is Words With Friends (aka Scrabble). A new user experience and interactive feel gives this very old and well-known game a nice edge. Pinball and Pac-Man are other examples of new games built purely off of historical brands. In the digital publishing arena, collection books and back issues of magazines sell extremely well. The emotional tie to impactful moments in history and happy memories still works as a viable marketing tool for sales, even in the digital realm.

If you have an app or a digital publication, and are looking for a way to improve your success in merchandising your app, consider this:

  1. According to recent research by the University of Montreal, women remember less negative memories than men and are drawn to positive memories. This is a great opportunity for merchandising "collections" or "back issues" that remind us of better times for women, or powerful and earth-changing times for men.
  2. While early adopters are drawn toward risk, and the unknown, early majority usage occurs when there is a perceived low risk of failure, and a reminder of proven success with the opportunity in the past.

These two statements indicate that the path to future mass app and publishing success may very well lie in merchandising the past. This means your app and publication advertising should rely on "best of" offers, and even a showcase of past awards/testimonials received. But they should do so in a way that ties directly to why the digital experience provides a better, easier, and more convenient way of driving to the same results. At my company we see great successes in selling back issues and collections. A great example of this is with one publication; Hockey News. Hockey News fans enjoy the archive of issues that Hockey News makes available upon subscribing. Other titles like Outside magazine, Road & Track, and VIVmag have also enjoyed successes in back issues and "best of" sales.

Not sold on the concept yet? Take this simple test. Think about the last five apps or publications you have downloaded and ask yourself why you downloaded them. You will be surprised to see that your answers will either be: I remembered it from the past, I was looking for some research, or it's a new tech on something I have enjoyed in the past.


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Jeanniey Mullen

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

Prior to her role at NOOKTM Jeanniey launched a wearables fashion technology company called Ringblingz. Before getting into the wearables business, Jeanniey was the chief marketing officer (CMO) of Zinio, where she grew the business by more than 427 percent, into one of the largest global digital newsstands. Other notable roles in her career include her involvement as the executive director and senior partner at OgilvyOne, where she led the digital Dialogue business and worked with Fortune 50 brands including IBM, Unilever, and American Express, and being a general manager at Grey Direct. At Grey Direct Jeanniey launched the first email marketing division of a global advertising agency. Prior to her time in advertising, Jeanniey spent seven years in retail leading a variety of groups from Consumer Relations and Operations, to Collections and Digital at JCPenney.

One of Jeanniey's favorite times in her career was when she founded the Email Experience Council (which was acquired by the Direct Marketing Association). Jeanniey is a recognized "Women in Business," a frequent keynote speaker, and has authored three books and launched a number of companies ranging from entertainment to technology and fashion.

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