‘Tis the Season… for a Digital Holiday Promotion Strategy

If your magazine doesn't have a digital holiday promotions strategy, now it the time to make one.

Five Useful Tips For Your Publication

You could call the most wonderful time of the year the “most promotional time of the year.”

Retail catalogs are already filling up mailboxes, specially designed with winter and holiday themes that evoke in us the magic and joy of the season – with top gift picks and deals almost too difficult to resist.

Holiday time is a big time for publications. Deals and special offers can bring in a lot of new subscribers. Why? Because people expect them and it may be just the incentive they need to join your ranks.

Let’s focus on how to communicate your magazine promotion via digital. With more and more shoppers making purchases on their smart phones, tablets, and desktop computers than ever before, a digital strategy for your holiday magazine promotion is essential. The best holiday strategies include these five components:

  1. The offer is specific. “Specific” means two things. One, that the offer is designed and phrased to appeal to a specific type of person, your “typical” subscriber; if you are using your own list to promote a digital offer that includes subscribers and expired subscribers, consider segmenting the list and targeting each group with a different offer. A subscriber would probably like 15% off a gift subscription to give to someone else, but it’s not relevant for an expired subscriber, who may need extra enticement to convince them to return. Secondly, “specific” means sticking to a specific offer. The offer should be easy to understand, without any confusing elements or caveats.
  2. The experience is easy. There’s nothing more frustrating than an abandoned shopping cart. According to Baymard Institute (March 2014) the average online shopping cart abandonment rate is 68.07%. Though this probably is more for retailers, it is meaningful for magazine publishers, too. Potential subscribers expect it to be easy to take advantage of an offer and connect with you.Try to eliminate roadblocks to create as seamless of an ecommerce experience as you can.For example, if you have a login that requires a customer number of account number (which people can find difficult to remember), take steps to auto-populate that field if someone clicks through an e-mail offer. This is a more advanced goal that may take some investment. A few other tips that help make a more seamless experience: providing clear and brief instructions, leading subscribers through the transaction, and having an optional guest checkout so that registration isn’t required. Easy could also be construed as “accessible.”
  3. The experience is consistent. Subscribers are reaching out to magazine publishers in a wider variety of ways than in the past, and they expect to see the same information and have the same experience regardless of the channel or touch point. For example, a potential subscriber may see an ad on a website while browsing on the Internet, then may research the magazine more on his tablet, and then may receive a piece of direct mail that encourages him to subscribe online.The offer needs to be consistently understood and consistently designed, both to resonate with a potential subscriber if he “experiences” you in more than one place and so that he knows what to expect.
  4. The offer is irresistible. Here it’s all about human psychology. It’s not just the type of offer, but how the offer is framed. There are certain words that grab people’s attention and certain words that tend to turn people off and away from your product. For example, free always catches people’s notice. So does the word “limited” because people want what is in short supply; the value of the product is perceived as higher.Design is equally important. For example, we are naturally hardwired to follow the same direction of another person’s gaze. Make sure your images direct people’s focus to your offer. These are just a couple examples, but there are more that can be used to make an appeal to the unconscious minds of those who see your offer – and help them convince them to take advantage of it.
  5. The offer is trackable. This is perhaps the most important component, because it tells you how the promotion performed. PURLs, redemption codes, source codes, and e-mail address verification are all methods to tracking who took the offer – and how. Performance data will help you make decisions for your next promotion and give you an indication about which areas may need refinement (i.e., a high click-through rate but a low registration rate) or be left out altogether.