A digital publication’s creative process should be one that takes a certain amount of thought, though it shouldn't necessarily be a recurring struggle.
In fact, if you lay down your digital publishing strategy well in advance, it should provide you with direction. All you would have to do everytime a new issue has to be planned is to see what are the current trends at that time and make sure that what you are writing is highly relevant for the time period.
So, to help you organise your thoughts on what to look for in your digital publishing strategy creation process, below are some key factors to consider.
Identify readers’ profiles
For who else is the digital publication for anyway, if not for its readers? When creating issues, or better yet, when deciding on the strategy for your entire publication for years worth of issues, you need to take a hard look at the audience you want to cater to.
Firstly, you have to know their demographics and the type of content that they prefer; and this should not just be about topics but even the media format that they like consuming whether they’re video, podcasts, infographics, gifs, or games etc. You should also know the devices they commonly use, the digital channels they frequent and their habits online and on mobile.
One thing you can do to help you and your editorial team is to create reader profiles where you create a hypothetical profile of each audience type. This way, you can cater your publication for them.
Multi-channel promotion strategy
Any digital publisher with an aim to succeed with their digital strategy will realise that promotion for a digital publication requires a multi-channel approach.
Drawing from the previous point of knowing your readers, from a marketing perspective, you’ll have to know in which channels are they present. For social media, what platforms do they use? For search engines, what keywords do they use to search? What apps are they most likely to use? From an advertising standpoint, what websites do they tend to frequent and can we advertise in them? Maybe there are cross-promotion opportunities.
Just as we know traditional magazine audiences don’t all just go to the same cafe and go home after, we shouldn’t make the assumption for our digital audiences. Know where they are and make sure you’re visible!
Adapt your skills
Digital publishing requires a whole set of skills that traditional publishing would normally not need. Depending on what you want to offer to your readers, you’ll have to ensure that you have the necessary skills available to you.
Let’s say you want to have an interactive digital magazine available on an app with the standard promotional channels of social media, website and the occasional advertisement. On top of the usual writers and designers, you may need additional skills in video production, web development, social media management, search engine optimisation, analytics, as well as digital ads.
The good news is that today’s digital professionals usually have multiple complementary skill sets. For example, digital marketers already include many of the above skills in their arsenal. And you don’t have to take on the burden yourself entirely. These skills can both be in-house or outsourced, part-time or full-time, allowing you to acquire them as you need them.
Analytics and numbers
Switching to digital, or even better a digital-first strategy, allows you to gain insights on what are the most engaging and interesting articles in your issues; but that is only if you have the right monitoring systems in place.
With numbers on hand, you can understand which topics are more popular or even find out what are the best multimedia elements that always engage readers.
More than looking at views on each title, you can look at the time spent on each article or read time. Moreover, a heatmap analysis on your articles could show where you tend to lose your audience or which elements of each piece are most engaging for them.