As a magazine publisher with a digital version, do you struggle with marketing your publication? Do you struggle with staying abreast of the latest SEO best practices? According to a recent survey of digital publishers, you are not alone. In fact, audience building, marketing, and SEO are the top three challenges in 2019. Here are some tips and best practices for using the latest methodologies for attracting readers and growing your audience.
Search engine optimization
You can’t grow your digital magazine subscriptions without attracting readers to your online content. Search engines, and especially Google mobile, provide the greatest number of referrals for digital magazine publishers. The goal of search engine optimization (SEO) is to have your content appear as high up in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) as possible. Because Google is continually changing its search algorithms, the best optimization tactics are continually changing too.
There are a few basics you should be aware of, but it’s important to keep up with the latest trends as much as possible — which you can do on sites such as Search Engine Land.
- Quality, well-written content is more important than keywords. Loading your text with keywords only detracts from your content.
- Do use relevant keywords in your titles, headings, subheads, and metatags. Long-tail keywords allow you to home in on targeted audiences searching for a specific topic.
- According to an article on mediashift.org, recent research shows that your engagement metrics are the most important ranking factors — the top four being direct website visits, time on site, pages per session, and bounce rate.
- Make sure your content is optimized for mobile. Google is starting to use mobile-first indexing, which means it uses mobile versions of a website for ranking and indexing.
Growing your audience
Once readers discover your digital magazine, you want to connect and engage with them so they keep returning and eventually become subscribers.
- Content is still king. Provide content that is relevant, high-quality, and meets your readers’ interests and needs. Go beyond what is expected or what other magazines do. Introduce new formats (webinars, infographics, author Q&As) and content sources. Don’t just inform your readers; surprise them often.
- Know your target audience and their needs. Use the data you collect to determine who, when, how, and where to reach them. Pay attention (and answer) reader comments and questions. Use surveys, focus groups, and forums to discover all you can about your audience.
- Focus on what sets your magazine apart from the competition. If it’s amazing photography, use it heavily. If it’s technical how-to, recruit technology experts over brilliant writers — but if your sweet spot is editorial and opinion pieces, excellent writing is paramount.
- Blogs are excellent vehicles for attracting readers. Update them regularly — three times a week is ideal. Give them a distinct voice and style that fits your audience: formal or informal, opinions or just the facts, funny or serious.
- Use links to related content on your site. The longer readers are on your site, the more likely they are to subscribe. Also, make your content easily shareable by using buttons to the most appropriate social media sites.
- Converting a reader to a paid subscriber is usually the ultimate goal of connecting with readers, but converting a casual visitor to a regular reader, signing up a newsletter subscriber, getting more likes on Facebook, or growing your Twitter followers are conversions as well. And they are easily tracked to determine what works and what doesn’t.
Digital magazine marketing provides different options than those used to market your print product. That’s good, unless you spread your efforts too thin. Focus on what your marketing staff can handle. Then test, and be willing to try something different if you aren’t getting the results you desire.
- Naturally, your website is the most logical way to market your digital magazine. Feature links to your digital magazine and mobile magazine app prominently on your web pages.
- Your email newsletter is a great way to market your digital magazine. You can include the table of contents for your current issue or snippets of content that link back to the digital article. You can also repurpose your digital content by breaking an article into parts and publishing them as a series, and you can place text or display ads for your digital magazine in between articles.
- You can place ads in your own print magazine or other magazines with a similar audience. You can also use your print magazine to send traffic to your digital magazine for additional or enhanced content.
- Make sure your magazine is available on digital newsstands such as Apple News Magazines, and if you have a digital magazine app, make sure it is available on Apple’s app store or on Google Play.
- Develop a social media marketing strategy. Choose two or three social platforms, join relevant groups where your target audience hangs out, have publishers and authors engage in discussions relevant to your magazine, share snippets and links to your content without giving a marketing pitch, and recruit thought leaders with their own following to engage in discussions on your social media page. And link your social media accounts to your publisher’s website so you can trace subscriptions related to those accounts.
Growing your audience is not easy. It takes time, effort, and resources. Concentrate on steady progress, track your efforts, and change what isn’t working. If you put in the necessary effort, it will pay off in subscriber numbers and your bottom line.