Category Archives for Content Marketing

Determining Your Online Marketing Goals

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ne of the first things you need to do when starting an online business or a new marketing campaign is to determine what your online marketing goals are. Do you want to increase sales conversions, get more traffic, improve your reputation or expand your brand? It is very important to understand that for a goal to become a reality, it needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic, as well as time specific. These are called SMART goals.

Potential Online Marketing Goals

First create a general list of goals, and then get more specific. A potential list of goals is below; yours will be different and based on your products, services and possibilities.

  • Generate More Sales - While this may seem like an obvious goal, it's important to state exactly how many more sales you want to achieve, in what period of time, and for what product.
  • Expand Online Presence - Every business today needs an online presence but the larger you build it, the more attention you'll get, and the more money you'll earn.
  • Increase Website Traffic - You want targeted website traffic, not just more website traffic, to ensure that you reach your other goals.
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    Get More Social Media Followers - More social media follows engaging with your posts can lead to an increase in so many other business indicators.
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    Generate Leads - You want to nurture leads that can turn into sales.
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    Grow Authority - The more authoritative your online presence, the better for all your other goals.

Making Your Goals SMART

The next step is to make your goals SMART. These points will help steer you in the right direction.

  • Specific - If you can't name what you want to accomplish in precise terms, it will be hard to know whether or not you've even achieved success. It's important to note whether or not you want to increase traffic, get more subscribers, or establish yourself as an authority, so that you're not acting without any knowledge of where you're going.
  • Measurable - If you can't provide a number detail to your goal, how will you know whether or not you achieved the results you wanted? To translate that, consider stating that you want to increase subscribers to 1400 starting from 800.
  • Attainable - It's important to know your audience enough to know if what you are shooting for is possible. Look back on the past as a good indicator of how well your future campaigns will go for your particular audience.
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    Realistic - If you have a goal of increasing subscribers, but you're not leading them to your newsletter form sign-up, then you're not being very realistic. Each campaign and goal must match each action that you take.
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    Time - If you don't set a time limit, you may never achieve your goal because you will be too tempted to procrastinate. Set deadlines that are realistic for the project that you're doing, based on your industry and past experience.

Making SMART goals part of your repertoire will increase your success exponentially. The reason is that you will have an actual final goal as something you're shooting for in order to succeed, instead of not having a clue where you are going. Plus, you'll be able to study the results to see if it worked. If it did not work, you'll be able to find ways to adjust for the future.

Nine Tips to Create Subscriber-Friendly Content 

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any times people subscribe to a mailing list and then immediately unsubscribe. Why do they do that? They do that for a variety of reasons – from not feeling like the content was directed toward them, to feeling like they get too many emails, or worse because they forgot they ever signed up due to the lack of emails and so many other emails. These nine tips will help you avoid all these situations.

  • Really Know Your Subscribers – Before you attempt to get one subscribe, ensure that you’re attracting the right people to your email list. Having just anyone sign up won’t help you reach your goals. Ensure that the content you put out there to attract people to sign up is directed to your target audience, and no one else. Also ensure that any freebies you give out in exchange for email addresses are things that only your target audience would want.
  • Personalize Subject Lines – Once they are on your email list, it’s important that you use the technology within your autoresponder software to personalize the subject lines for your audience. If they see their name within the subject line, they’re going to be a lot more likely to open it and notice it in the deluge of email they already receive.
  • Personalize Content – Your autoresponder software also has the ability to personalize the inside contents within the email. Use it. It’s important to use this capability because audiences respond very well to having content personalized to them. They see their name and they feel more important and more like clicking through.
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    Send Only Targeted Content – When you create email content to be sent out in your list, it’s important that it is targeted. Once you’ve attracted your target audience, don’t mess it up by sending something different than they expect. Double check for each title you plan to send to them. Ask yourself: "Does this fit my target audience?"
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    All Content You Send Should Be Purposeful – In addition to being targeted, the content needs a purpose. Your purpose can be multi-fold. You want to inform, entertain, educate and engage. You may not do every single one of these – though that should be your goal – but at least choose one of these. Plus, do include your call to action, every single time.
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    Your Content Should Be Helpful – One of the most important things you'll want to impart to your audience is your willingness and desire to help them achieve something or solve their problems. Since what you offer them does solve their problems, you are on the right track by offering them your products or services.
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    Don’t Send Content Too Often – Be careful about sending content too often. You know the people who send content three or four times a day; it is irritating and even if they do offer something good you stop reading. You get sick of it and just don’t read and eventually you unsubscribe. You don’t want that to happen so tread carefully here.
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    Don’t Send Content Too Infrequently – Conversely, it’s important to avoid not sending content to your audience enough. Before the first person signs up, you should have in the autoresponder enough content to go out at least for one year, one piece of content a week. That’s 52 evergreen pieces of content that fit your audience and promote the products you have now and know you’ll have for a long time. Then you can add fresh content to go out once or twice a week that is new if you desire.
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    Study Your Metrics – Finally, it’s really important that you study your metrics. If you don’t know who is opening, how many are opening, when they’re opening and what happens when they click through to follow your call to action, then you won’t know if what you’re doing works or not. You should be aware of whether or not your work is really producing a response.

Creating subscriber-friendly content is simple if you have done the work to understand who your audience is, and what they want. You can even use your autoresponder software to engage your members and ask them what they want. The more you can deliver what they want, the more successful you’ll be.

How to use SMS to Launch a Product

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MS marketing is a very flexible form of marketing which is very important today. People use their mobile devices continuously; many even taking them to bed with them. They eat with them and keep them by their side at all times. If you’re a marketer who hasn’t experimented with SMS marketing, you’re missing out. One great way to use SMS is to launch a new product.

Just like with email marketing, customers opt in to receive your text messages. As you build your list, you will send the customer or potential customer messages to announce new products, send them to a new website, and more. It’s not unlike email marketing but the messages need to be shorter, more direct, always have a call to action, and offer a simple way to opt out in each message. Once you get through those issues, your message is as good as in the customer’s hands.

  • Build Your SMS List - Use every avenue at your disposal for building your SMS list. If you have a store front, ask for cell phone numbers at checkout, whether it’s an online store or a bricks and mortar store.
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    Tease Information out to the List – As you get new sign-ups, be sure to send them a test message and allow them to opt in or out, remind them where they signed up, and send them a coupon or something exciting.
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    Ask Your Subscribers to Share – When you send them a message, ask them to share this exciting information and opportunity with their friends because it will help make your SMS list larger.
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    Send Creative Messages – You aren’t limited to just text today with SMS. You can send a video message, or an image that is more creative and will potentially get more buzz.
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    Offer Early Bird Coupons for New Product – Once they sign up, don’t just forget about them even if you’re not done with the main product yet to launch. Send coupons and early bird information. Make them feel special and exclusive.
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    Build Up Excitement - Keep sending messages to pique their interest in the next thing and the big launch. You want them to be happy to get your text messages.
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    Launch – When the product is done, launch it via SMS like you would if you were launching it via email marketing. Send information to get them to go to your website to buy, or bricks and mortar business to buy.
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    Repeat – Keep doing it. Sometimes it takes time for a customer to respond and act on your SMS messages. As long as they’ve not opted out, send messages to them on a regular basis but don’t do it as often as you would an email.

SMS marketing has a big chance of creating a viral campaign if you send interesting messages that trigger your audience to want to purchase from you right now. This method of marketing works very well with limited time offers because of the sense of urgency that you can elicit with the message if worded correct with a good call to action.

Pros and Cons of Native Advertising

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ative advertising, like all advertising, has its pros and cons. The problem a small business has is that without advertising they can’t find all their customers. So, it helps to understand the pros and cons of each type of advertising.

Pros of Native Advertising

  • Better customer targeting – The fact that the ads run only where like content is seen means that the people who click through your content are better targeted and more likely to find your information helpful.
  • Less expensive – Compared to other forms of more traditional display advertising and banner ads, this is a much less expensive form of advertising. It offers a lower barrier to entry so that many different types of businesses can take advantage of this type of advertising.
  • Bypasses ad blind customers – Most consumers today are blind to most traditionally advertising. The way that native advertising appears is less intrusive and doesn’t always look like an ad.
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    Enhances content – Having more information similar to what a reader is already reading is a good way to offer more information to readers.
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    Increases targeted followers – Since the promoted information only appears with like information, it will be more likely to produce a lot more targeted readers.

Cons of Native Advertising

  • Can seem deceptive – Many people who use native advertising put tricky headlines, and when the consumer clicks through they’re not happy, thus making it harder for more honest publishers to use native advertising.
  • Seen as unethical – Due to the dishonest headlines, the native advertising can seem unethical to some readers.
  • Publishers receive backlash – Often when a publisher allows native ads to appear on their website their traffic goes down, even as their revenue goes up.
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    Too advertorial – Sometimes people misuse native ads as if they’re like the old-fashioned advertorials that appear in print magazines. This is not a good use for native advertising.
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    Google may penalize native advertising – It has been found that Google penalizes publishers for including native advertising on its pages. However, Google is actually getting in on the native advertising game so this may not be true.

The fact is that all forms of advertising have problems to overcome. People are prone to dislike all advertising, even when it ends up helping them. After all, how would anyone find out about products that help them without advertising? Your job is to provide excellent materials so that your audience can find the solutions it needs.

In order to overcome the stigma of advertising of all kinds, it’s important for small business owners to not be tricky with headlines, to be straightforward about what’s going to be in the content, and to provide informative content that is helpful to your audience. If you seek to always under promise and over deliver, your readers will never be disappointed when clicking through your native advertising to find what you have to tell them about.

What’s the Difference in Owned, Paid, and Earned Marketing Strategy?

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hen you are choosing different marketing strategies to implement when marketing your business, it’s important to understand the choices you have and how they differ. You essentially have three choices when it comes to marketing, namely “owned,” “paid” and “earned” media. You’ll more than likely use a combination of all strategies for the very best results.

Owned Media

This consists of your own website, blog posts, social media accounts, and articles you write and own.

Owned media is very important for business owners because it is something that you can control and use the easiest. Your content on your website needs to be top-notch, taking into consideration search engine optimization. Your content on your blog needs to be updated often with relevant content directed toward your audience. Engage often on your social media accounts.

Paid Media

This consists of promoted posts, PPC campaigns and anything that you pay for play.

One good use of paid media is to engage in a remarketing campaign. For instance, if someone has come to your website to view a page and then leave, you can use remarketing (also known as retargeting) to bring the viewer back to your website.

Sponsored articles, advertisements, email marketing, paid search, promoted video are all examples of paid media. This is another important element for most marketers and it’s important for you to use these opportunities. Start small with using promoted posts on Facebook.

Earned Media

This consists of information about your business that is owned by a third party and not controlled by you.

Whether you want earned media or not, you’re going to have it. It can be both good and bad, and it’s still earned media if a third party put it out there without your permission and without payment from you. You can have some measure of control over earned media by providing the best customer service you can, having top-notch products and services, and keeping your ear to the ground to make the most of any positive third party earned media.

Sometimes there can be cross-overs with owned and paid media, as well as owned and earned media. For example, if you own a blog post and you pay to promote it. Or if you created a video that happened to go viral that is both owned and earned -because once it goes viral you essentially lose control of it and what is said about it. Take advantage of those opportunities when you can.

All business owners should use a combination of all three forms of media in their marketing efforts for the very best results. With today’s crowded marketplace, the old ways of just relying on search engine optimization and your own social media promotions are over. You need to find a way to stand out from the crowd to become a force to be reckoned with.

What Is Native Advertising?

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ou probably already know about native advertising, just did not know what it was called or how to get started, or why you should do it. There are three different types of native advertising, some of which you’ll be familiar with.

  • Open – You place the content on your website and then promote it to other platforms, knowing it will send everyone back to your website.
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    Closed – Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are all closed platforms that allow you to put your content on them and promote them.
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    Combination – Uses a combination of the above, usually by installing a private platform that permits bidding from outside platforms.

These different types of native advertising come in the form of:

  • Search Ads – Can work both on and off your website. Search on your website allows the user to find content on your website but also introduces new content that your users can click on that will take them off your site. Conversely, if you bought those keywords, your content would appear on someone else’s website.
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    Contextual Ads – When you buy keywords, a publisher that uses contextual ads can allow links to your information to appear, and you can also allow the same on your own website if you desire to earn extra money. This isn’t really recommended for solely business websites though; instead you should be ensuring that your links appear on other publishers’ websites.
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    Content Dependent Ads – This is how all Google Ads work. They are dependent on the content that a publisher has on their site. If you purchase certain keywords and create display ads via Google Ads, then your information will show up on the right content across the web.
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    Promoted Content – When you write compelling content, you can promote it through various websites such as promoted posts on Facebook, Twitter, and if your content is a video you can pay to promote your post on YouTube for added viewers.
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    Sponsor Funded Content – Some websites need content and will allow for paid sponsored content to appear on their site. Sometimes this is as simple as a guest blog post with a bio that links to your sales page, and other times it’s a full-on paid sponsored post.

All of these ways to use native advertising are activities that all small business owners should consider doing. Without native advertising your information may not be seen as quickly. SEO (search engine optimization) works very well, but if you have a time-limited event and you really want to get a lot of visitors to sign up for your event, you’re going to do a lot better to pay for promotion strategically.

Using a combination of native advertising along with sound SEO practices, you can take your small business to a brand-new level that you won’t see without using native advertising practices.

Where Are We Seeing Native Advertising?

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oday you can see examples of native advertising on many popular websites such as CNN.com, Huffington Post, The Onion, Fast Company, The New York Times and various local newspapers – as well as other popular online magazines and websites. The way you can spot native advertising is that it does not look like an advertisement or the old-fashioned advertorial. Instead it’s sponsored useful content that does not read as an advertisement but as useful content in and of itself that the audience will likely enjoy.

There are some experts who do not believe that sponsored posts are really native advertising. They consider them regular advertising. Copyblogger’s Demian Farnworth is one expert who defines native advertising as:

“… [P]aid content that matches a publication’s editorial standards while meeting the audience’s expectations.”

But Wikipedia defines native advertising as any advertising that appears within the context of the publisher’s website based on content that is sponsored by the publisher or promoted by the creator. In other words, the content is paid for in some way. In some cases “paid for” means that a brand might donate the product that is being featured in order to promote brand awareness instead of money exchanging hands.

CNN

 Many of CNN’s stories, especially when it has to do with a new product, a movie, or a star, is likely a form of native advertising done really, really well. Even if no money changes hands... if a brand is mentioned, it’s all about brand awareness, and you can be sure that the brand solicited the story in some way.

The Onion

This is a parody site that makes its money off ads and uses a lot of native advertising to do it. With The Onion, it can be really hard to know which articles are really advertisements in some way. But, there are all kinds of native advertising going on within The Onion including paid posts, sponsored posts, and donated product placement.

Buzzfeed 

They use native ads by having companies sponsor different stories that may or may not be about the brand. They also have content written by brands and promoted by brands. It’s a really good example of a website that uses many different forms of advertising very well. A good example is a post published by and promoted by ExxonMobile entitled “What Kind Of Engineer Should You Be?” This is very informative content for the reader, plus a line of tweets mentioning ExxonMobile to the right.

Cracked

This website gets most of its ad revenue from native advertising as most of the posts are created by and promoted by other publishers. Cracked works with brands to create sponsored content, unlike Buzzfeed which allows brands to create the content themselves. They prefer to create the content themselves in order to maintain their specific standards to create off the charts, funny, irreverent and awesome content.

Native advertising is an important way for brands to get their message out to the world, create brand awareness, and get more visitors to their own websites.

Who Uses Native Advertising and How

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usinesses – from insurance companies to cleaning companies and many in between – use native advertising to make more sales and increase brand awareness. Whether you are a large or small business, you can participate in native advertising too. And you should, because it works very well to get the word out about your business. Here are examples of business who use native advertising, and how they do it.

  • Nestle TollhouseThis Buzzfeed post is a sponsored post that Nestle contracted someone to write and then promoted on Buzzfeed. This post is a list of easy to make recipes using ingredients from Nestle Tollhouse. It is both an advertisement for the brand and a useful post for cooks who want to make interesting treats.
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    Pixar MoviesThis video created by Cracked about why Pixar movies are secretly movies about the apocalypse, is made irreverently and hilariously and makes everyone want to watch the movies with a new eye.
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    Graduate Schools – This article about graduate schools with the richest alums is really a way to spread brand awareness about various graduate schools. The article is also informative in nature but secretly gets the point across about good grad schools to think of attending for you or your children.
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    Staples – This article was found through a link through The Atlantic online edition and is sponsored by Staples. It gives advice about the pros and cons of traditional and standing desks while promoting its own brand, since the article resides on their own website.
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    Walden University – On Facebook, Walden University has an advertisement that offers free information for anyone who wants to get an advanced degree. This ad appeared because the writer has searched for information regarding further education. This is called retargeting, and the fact that a sponsored post appears to the user who has searched for such information is smart.
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    Simple Green Smoothies – They are offering “Need a full body reset? Our FREE 1-day cleanse kit is a great way to get started right away. Learn how to boost your energy, shed some pounds and get glowing skin with a whole food lovin’ meal plan + shopping list.” They run this advertisement within the stream on Facebook to people who have shown interest in that topic. This gives more opportunity for someone to be interested.
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    Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance – This has a sponsored exclusive coupon that they promote on Twitter for Facebook fans. It’s a way to get more Facebook fans, but they promote it via Twitter. This is a good use of a sponsored post because it helps get more social media followers on the social media they want to use.

As you can see, the number and type of native ads that brands are using are many. This means that there is a place for your business to also use native advertising. The barriers to entry are really low when it comes to pushing out sponsored posts on Twitter and Facebook, and to use a system like Outbrain.com.

What Is Earned Media and How Does It Apply to My Business?

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here are three types of exposure available to marketers, namely “owned,” “paid” and “earned.” They are all important to the success of your business, but none is more important than earned media. Earned media is the best exposure you can hope for, and while you do not pay for it, and you cannot control it, you do earn it through your actions. Earned media is a far more trusted form of promotion than any other type of promotion because it is seen as truth.

Types of Earned Media

  • Social media – Someone posts about reading your eBook and how awesome and helpful it is to them, and shares a link to your eBook.
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    Reviews – Someone writes a product review on a third party website and links to your product.
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    Rating sites – Someone gives your website a rating on a third party website.
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    Word-of-mouth – Someone tells their friends about your products and provides the information needed for their friends to buy your product.
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    Press releases - You send out the press release, but third party websites for which you have no control run with the story.
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    Third party mentions – Unpaid third party bloggers write about your products, websites, or services without any payment whatsoever, including affiliate income.
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    Viral video – Even though you may own the video, once it goes viral it becomes earned media.
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    Viral infographics – Even though you created the infographic and are the first to distribute it, once it goes viral you no longer own what people do with it or say with it and it becomes earned media.
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    Viral blog post – You write it and share it, and then at the point it becomes viral and third parties are distributing, it becomes earned media.

As you can see, earned media can easily become confused with owned and paid media. But, if you can get it clear in your mind that earned media is information about your business that is created and distributed by third parties, then it’ll be easier to understand. The only exception is the case of information that goes viral.

Knowing this, you can somewhat direct the earned media that happens. You can direct it by providing excellent content that has a chance of going viral. Plus, always offer top-notch products and services that your customers will voluntarily want to talk about you to their friends in multiple formats. Remember - whether the discussion about you is negative or positive, it’s still earned media.

You therefore need to seek to control the story by sending out newsworthy press releases to the right contacts that will take ownership of your story and disseminate it to their audience. Provide excellent customer service, terrific products, second-to-none services and you can have some measure of control over the earned media that is out there about you.

Trends and Stats for Digital Magazines

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here are many different trends and stats available for digital magazine publishers. It’s important to keep up-to-date on these trends and statistics so that you can stay ahead of the game and publish the best magazine you’re capable of publishing for your audience. It’s clear that things are changing in the publishing world due to the easy entry into publishing through the advent of digital magazines and the different platforms to publish them.

  • Paper Is Old School – While you may consider offering print on demand, the fact is paper is less and less cool and more and more old school when it comes to magazines. There is basically no reason to publish paper magazines in the digital world today. You can get just as good results by publishing only online, especially if your distribution numbers are small. According to ZenithOptimedia Agency, print magazines will shrink by about 2 to 3 percent a year.
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    Longer Articles Work Well – Publishing longer, more in-depth articles in your magazine is a good idea. People like to take the time to read longer articles when they open up a magazine. Reading a magazine article is different from reading quick online content. You can include serious statistical pieces that go outside of the content you may normally put on your website or in newsletters.
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    Magazines Will Be More Interactive – Due to their digital nature, magazines can be more interactive than their paper counterparts. You can now include surveys, polls, videos, and audio into your digital magazine. What’s more, your subscribers will expect more interactive features in their digital publications.
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    Magazines Will Have Fewer Ads – Yet, you’ll make more money even though there will be fewer ads in each magazine. Customers are tired of flipping through page after page of ads. So, the price of each advertisement will be higher but there will be fewer spaces available. You’ll actually make more money with less work due to this, since you can also include more technologically advanced forms of ads.
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    Micro Magazines Will Become More Popular – This is where you come in. According to State of the Media, smaller more focused digital magazines will become more popular as time goes on. This is showing to be true, which is why small business owners should highly consider publishing a digital magazine for their audience as a way to increase brand awareness or another income stream.
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    Subscriptions are Easier Than Ever to Collect – Due to flattening ad revenue it’s important to consider earning through a subscription plus ad revenue model. Thankfully, due to excellent technology, you can break into the digital publishing subscription model really easily. Using software like Joomag can make it super simple.
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    Creating Serials Is Becoming Popular Again – In the old days of magazines and micro publishing books, creating stories and information that was told in serial format was popular. This encouraged customers to buy subscriptions and also repeat buying so that they could see what happened or get the rest of the story and information.
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    Multiple Revenue Streams Will Become More Popular – Ads, subscriptions, and micropayments will all be possible with digital magazines. An author can put a donate button right in their bio for a chance to collect donations or tips for their article. Having this option rather than upfront payment to authors might help you get more content for your magazine, because it’s more than likely you’ll be unable to create enough interesting well-crafted content on your own for a regular magazine.

Digital magazines are becoming more popular for formerly print magazines. Plus, the barriers to entry are so low that anyone can create and publish a digital magazine for any topic and niche that they desire. What’s clear is that there will be more to choose from for the audience, which means you’ll need to market harder than ever.

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