Doing brand publishing? Online magazines makes more sense than ever.
A lot of marketers are using customer magazines as an effective tool to create a deeper relationship between brands and its customers. When I was at the Content Marketing Conference in Ohio last fall, Joe Pulizzi asked the audience who was engaged in custom or brand publishing, and more than half of the audience raised their hand.
Yet many marketers are still sending out their magazines only in print, and when they do bring it on-line, it is often based on a PDF format. Which is basically print. There is of course nothing wrong with print, it is just that print is print and digital is digital. They are two different mediums.
Here are some solid reasons why you want to go for online magazines and with that I mean a native digital format:
Growing interest and audiences
We’ve previously reported statistics showing circulation in the millions and huge circulation boosts for some online magazines, and the trend toward taking magazines online is growing. As an example, a survey by the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM)  shows that many more magazine publishers are now delivering content via either native or web apps to reach their users.
One of the great things about taking your magazine online is that it far extends its potential reach. People around the globe who may not want to pay postage costs for a print publication won’t hesitate to hand over their email address to receive an online publication.
With huge numbers of people now using smartphones and tablets throughout the day and with reading being a core activity for many of them, brands can take advantage of this by put their magazines online to reach those readers. Inform and entertain readers and you build better engagement, especially if readers have the convenience of consuming content the way they want.
Speed of Distribution
If you’re comparing print vs online magazines, here’s an important piece of information. A typical print publishing cycle – from planning to printing to the point where people can read the content – takes weeks. In a world of 24-hour news and instant information gratification, this is just too slow.
These days, people (especially mobile device users) expect to get the information they want quickly. Online magazines enable brand publishers to meet this need. With online magazines, you can get information to your core audience quickly – and it’s easy to make an update if you need to.
A study on digital publishing points out that one of the great things about online magazines is that you can make online magazines totally interactive.  Clickable links, interactive ads, video – brand publishers can embed all these elements to create a better experience for readers.
Surprisingly, the AAM shows that not many publishers have yet taken advantage of this trend, with 73% replicating their print editions precisely. We’ve already told you why this is a bad idea so if you can use better online magazine publishing software you will be ahead of most publishers.
Being Mobile Friendly
It makes sense to invest in being mobile friendly. The senior media execs interviewed by the AAM agree, especially when it comes to tablets. If you have a tablet, you already know how easy it is to get lost in reading beautiful content. The handy device size, sharp screen, and easy access via swiping and tapping make this an immersive reading experience that no print publication can match. And reading online magazines on mobile devices reveals another major advantage over their print version – the ability to adjust type size. No more squinting at tiny words!
One last thing to consider when thinking about print vs online magazines is that online magazines give you a more realistic picture of your customers. You have to approach print circulation figures with a certain caution, since they sometimes rely on the numbers printed and distributed, without a real idea of who’s actually reading the publication.
That’s not the case with online magazines. You will know precisely how many you have sent out, how many people have opened them and how many clicked on your links. You will also be able to tell what they have clicked on and what they have shared. Online magazine analytics tools give you an in-depth knowledge of what your customers really respond to, and that can help you in creating future editions.
So don’t do print online. As you can see, there are really good reasons to do ‘digital native’ online magazines!
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