Magazine sales are dropping in the US. That’s according to a study from Statista, who found that (despite a growing number of readers) retail sales of magazines dropped by a staggering 28 million in America between 2014 and 2016. Clearly, despite a market that continues to propagate, it’s becoming ever harder to successfully sell magazines. With magazine publishers facing present-day challenges such as these, what can be done to turn the tables? Keep reading to discover 7 tips, tricks, and strategies for creating a successful magazine.
7 Strategies for Magazine Publishers to Know About
Here are 7 things that can help magazine publishers successfully create a magazine in today’s world.
1. Ensure Responsive Web Design
The digital age has been upon us for some time now.
Gone are the days of standalone print magazines. A digital magazine presence and strategy are now crucial to success. Content should be readily available online, whether on a computer, tablet or smartphone.
Which is where responsive web design comes in.
It boils down to this: looks matter.
Essentially, your website and content should automatically change to fit the digital platform on which it’s being viewed. In a ‘one-size-fits-all’ way, your site needs to be just as functional and aesthetic regardless of the screen size it’s viewed on.
Otherwise, you risk increasing bounce rates and losing potential return customers.
On this point, publishers need to consider their approach to reader engagement on each of their digital platforms.
For instance, should a paid print subscription automatically give access to digital content? And, for that matter, will all print content purchased in person be accessible online as well?
Questions like these are important considerations when determining your brand, client-base, and general magazine goals.
2. Optimize for Mobile Usage
Digital is one thing. Mobile is another.
Mobile is now king when it comes to web usage. According to Smart Insights, in some countries, mobile usage is a staggering four times higher than traditional forms of content consumption.
For magazine publishers intent on establishing an online presence, all web content must be optimized for mobile browsing.
That optimization refers to factors such as load time.
A study by Kissmetrics found that 40% of mobile users will click back from a site that takes over 3 seconds to load. Clearly, your site needs to be quick if it’s going to be used.
3. Incorporate Progressive Web Apps
As we’ve seen, fast-loading mobile content is an increasingly important source of traffic for any digital content.
Progressive web apps (PWAs) are one potential strategy to employ in this pursuit. They’re a new method of providing an optimized mobile experience.
It’s essentially an app that runs in the browser, as opposed to being downloaded from an app store. They offer readers easy, app-like functionality all while surfing on their phone as normal.
4. Prioritize Acquisition AND Maintenance
Getting subscribers to your magazine is one thing.
Keeping them is another.
For magazine publishers to be successful they need to focus on both acquisition and maintenance. But, typically, publishers spend for more time and energy trying to get new subs.
Of course, new subscribers are key to a flourishing magazine. But not if it means sacrificing a current fan base.
You need to be adept at both in order for your magazine to expand and survive.
5. Know the Power of Renewals
Renewals are key to the longevity of any magazine’s current customer base.
Here are two popular components of a renewals strategy you could copy.
First, send out renewal reminders at particular points in someone’s current subscription. For instance, with three issues remaining they get a renewal notice. Then again when they have only two and one issue(s) left. Finally, if they don’t renew, send a follow up with an incentive to re-join (such as a special offer).
Second, once a year you could send out a renewals offer to all existing subscribers. You could also send it out to historic subscribers. The offer could be for a particular relevant gift, such as a notebook. This ‘gift’ can incentivize renewals and/or be purchased separately.
This can be a great way to encourage renewals while stimulating extra revenue at the same time.
Make the renewal process as easy as possible though.
For example, physical reminders could include pre-printed forms with customers’ account information (so they don’t have to rewrite anything) and a pre-addressed envelope.
6. Swap Subscriptions for Membership Schemes
The digital age has had a direct negative impact on print sales and subscriptions.
Both have suffered: print sales and subscriptions are dwindling across the board.
In an effort to counteract their decreasing revenue streams, many publications now require would-be readers to pay a fee to read their digital content.
Membership schemes offer an alternative.
Rather than imposing paywalls and the like on would-be readers, they encourage membership through incentives. For instance, content’s free. But pay to be a member and you’ll get exclusive access to other content, gifts, and experiences.
Remember, now more than ever, loyal customer bases are vital for the ongoing success of publications. Membership schemes are an effective way of encouraging this.
7. Diversify Revenue Streams (& Know Your Brand)
Successful magazines make money.
They need it to survive.
A growing trend to ensure magazine longevity is to diversify its income streams. No longer is revenue restricted to subscriptions and paper sales. We’ve already seen how membership schemes can offer an alternative.
But think wider.
Magazines now run cafes, sell merchandise and have festivals in their name. These earn money for the publication, but they also attract attention and grow awareness of the magazine.
It all ties into the brand.
You need a strong brand identity for a website to convert, or a festival to draw crowds, or a caf? to attract customers. The themes, aesthetics, and intentions need to align in order to be successful.
Clear brand identity and a loyal readership make income diversification for more straightforward.
Time to Wrap Up
There you have it: 7 strategies that magazine publishers need to know about!
Hopefully, we’ve provided some new ideas and insight into what it takes to create a successful magazine.
Ensure you have a responsive web design and focus on mobile content (perhaps via PWAs). Establish a loyal customer base and, with the help of simple renewal offers, concentrate on keeping them. Finally, to be sustainable, consider a transition to membership schemes and diversification of income streams.
Follow these strategies and you’ll be on your way to a thriving publication in no time.
Now we’d love to hear from you! Which strategy do you think would have the greatest impact on your magazine? Focusing on mobile content, or switching to a membership scheme?
Let us know in the comments! And be sure to contact us for more info on online publishing!