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Are You and Your Magazine Ready for a Digital Transformation? - 8/23/2016 -

Stephanie Kern 
Here’s what the National Business Aviation Association learned about its content, its members, and promotion when launching a digital magazine.

By Stephanie Kern

According to The Brand Flip by Marty Neumeier, "An explosion of connectivity, and the power it gives customers, is turning companies upside down. The question isn’t whether your company will be disrupted — but when.”

Whether through augmented or virtual reality, beacon technology or Cloud servers, technological disruption is here to stay. While the debate rages over whether or not print is dead, some publishers believe that digital magazines are the new standard. In "How to Soar Your Magazine into the Digital Sphere,” AM&P16 Annual Meeting presenter Debbie Bates-Schrott of Bates Creative outlined how she used Adobe Digital Publishing Suite to create a digital magazine for the National Business Aviation Association, which in turn created increased reader engagement, better communication among departments within the company, and greater accessibility to content.

Before jumping on the digital magazine bandwagon, Bates says there are several things your association should answer:

1 Why do we need a digital edition?

2 Which platform is right for our organization?

3 What options do our readers need?

4 What are the deployment options?

Digital Is a Different Animal

A true digital magazine is not simply a replica of the print version — it is a completely separate file and process. Considerations about fonts (they must be larger online), the use of icons and graphics (you must incorporate more online to maintain engagement), and content types (there are options for different types of engagement available online) are essential.

Since the digital format imposes no length restrictions, videos, extra sidebars, or entire features can be added. Also, the digital space will require different file types and sizes of ads, so be sure to let your advertisers know. Generally, a digital magazine requires a visuals-first mindset — and visual storytelling is much more likely to engage readers than text-heavy pages.

Know Your Audience

It’s always a good idea to consider your audience’s needs when creating any new type of publication. When first creating the digital magazine, NBAA assumed that its readers would only utilize laptops or tablets to read. When the process was finished, the association learned that many users were trying to access the magazine via their mobile devices — to no avail. An update coming this year will fix that.

In addition to readers, the digital magazine’s audience also includes internal clients — employees working in different departments that may be affected by new schedules, requests for more or more-engaging content, or other new responsibilities.

Market the Digital Change

If you build it…readers might not come. Once you’ve identified the right platform to use, considered reader and internal client needs, and started the digital makeover, give your readers a heads-up about the change — before, during, and after the implementation. Let them know why you’re making the change and what the benefits and different capabilities are, and encourage them to provide feedback. Invite readers again and again to use the digital version via direct email promotion.

Finally, once you’ve made the jump into the digital sphere, use the new tools available to you to analyze and track statistics about open and click-through rates, average time users spend reading, and more so you know what’s working and what’s not — and can make your digital publication the best it can be.

Stephanie Kern is assistant editor at the American Staffing Association.Association Media & Publishing sincerely appreciates her volunteering to cover this Annual Meeting session for those who were unable to attend.


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