Taking Print Media Online

Most UK readers still prefer print magazines

According to a new study by Deloitte, 60% of people in the UK still prefer to read printed magazines rather than online content, the NMA reported. Is this surprising what with all the seemingly explosive demand for nice new gadgets such as iPad?

I’d say not really, because as Erick Schonfeld puts it in his article on TechCrunch, ‘print media companies are still feeling their way in this new medium’.

Taking a PDF version of your print magazine and dropping it into an iPad application whilst adding some interactivity through the use of videos and slideshows is not taking advantage of what the technology can really offer. If you really want to try a different reading experience then try out Flipboard, Apple’s iPad app of the year in 2010. It allows you to be your own editor and choose from multiple content sources to pull down realtime news and articles into your own customized magazine. Not only that but its social so you get to share content with your friends so you’re always in touch with trending issues that you and the people you trust find interesting. Personalised so to speak.

That is the experience media owners should be striving to achieve. For those who get it right will definitely reap the rewards. Here’s Erick’s views on what the optimal iPad news/content reader should be:

Social: It should show you what your friends and the people you trust are reading and passing around, both within that publication and elsewhere on the Web.

Realtime: News breaks every second, and publications need to be as realtime as possible to keep up. A “daily” already sounds too slow.

Local: The device knows where you are and should serve up news and information accordingly, including, weather, local news and reviews.

To be fair to publishers, there have been some industry issues that needed to be addressed, but now Apple have finally opened up their subscription service meaning readers no longer have to purchase each new version of a magazine or newspaper separately. The service will also address the issue of providing access to existing subscribers. If the publisher wishes, readers who already pay for the content on the publishers web site can have access to the publication’s mobile app for no extra charge.

It will be an interesting space to watch. Google have just launched One Pass, their own rival subscription payment service taking only a 10% cut as opposed to Apple’s 30%. Then there’s the recent news that Apple might soon be forced to make further changes to their service thanks to the possible violation of antitrust laws .

Multi-Channel Marketing: Where are retailers getting the best results?

EcommerceAs most people will know, it’s not always the channel that drives the greatest numbers that necessarily delivers the most valuable traffic, and the people who are most likely to purchase. So what are the best performing digital channels for today’s e-tailers? Is Social Media with all its growth and all its hype really worth the investment?

Apparently not, according to a new report just released by Forsee Results. Every year, Forsee surveys online shoppers frequenting the top 40 retail sites in the United Kingdom and this year one of the key questions they wanted to answer was: ‘Do retail results justify investment in social media’?

Well, with the survey findings showing that social media was responsible for only 3% of visiting traffic it would seem not. Other more established channels, such as Search (13%) and Email (10%) were shown to surpass by far and away the impact of social media channels.

The report however did not stop at just analysis of traffic volumes, but went on to analyse the quality of the traffic being delivered by gathering data for each channel according to customer satisfaction and likelihood to purchase, both online and offline. Here is where there were some interesting results.

Promotional email, one of top rated sources for traffic volume also rated highly for satisfaction and likelihood to purchase. Whereas Search ranked comparatively poorly in these areas. Why would that be? Well, it certainly doesn’t surprise me that promotional email scored well. With relevancy and personalisation, the keys to effective email marketing, you’re always going to give yourself the best opportunity to maximise your response rates. I will just mention here that this data is obviously a sample of all shoppers and represents an average across 40 different retailers. Although the data might be telling us that retailers in general are having success with their email marketing efforts, my personal experience to date is that some are definitely still struggling in this area. I have now received two emails from a well known retailer here in the UK – who I won’t name and shame – in the last 10 days or so that are just horrifically generic, both leading with their latest deals on women’s clothes! No personalisation, no relevance and straight to my deleted items folder. This is not a hard thing to get right. I’ve made several purchases from them. They have my data and purchase history so why aren’t they using it?

So why does Search rank poorly? Are we putting too much focus on optimising our sites and pages for search engine algorithms as opposed to for the end user? The end result being that once the user has clicked through, they are not presented with what they wanted and what they were actually searching for? My personal opinion is, quite possibly. Of course, it’s a balancing act. If one doesn’t tip one’s hat to the search engines and play the SEO game then users are never going to find your listing. However if you go too far the other way and do everything to obtain that top ranking without actually stopping to think what the user wants once they click-through to your site then you’re not going to win either. If you’re getting the clicks and the traffic but not the conversions then maybe its time for some conversion rate optimisation (CRO) and some multivariate testing to see what’s working and what’s not….but that’s a topic for another post I feel.

So at this stage, all the data is telling us that retailers would be foolish to ignore the tried and tested online marketing channels in favour of newer media. Although social media is clearly here to stay, it’s yet to establish itself as the medium of choice, in terms of traffic or sales. Indeed, when asked to pick the channel by which they wanted to be contacted by retailers, consumers again overwhelmingly chose traditional channels with 62% saying email was their preferred method of contact and only 2% opting for social media.

So before you decide to build that Facebook e-commerce store or dive headlong into a large scale social media promotion why not first take a look at your email marketing strategy and really assess whether you are getting the most out of that channel or whether with a few tweaks you can get far more bang for your buck!

Turning Mentions into Links

Whilst doing some research for a client today, I came across a great tool that I thought I would share. The tool, created using Yahoo Pipes allows SEOs to generate a list of sites and pages where a business or brand is mentioned but no corresponding link is included.

Yahoo Pipes is a pretty powerful and flexible tool that lets users manipulate and mashup content from around the web to create output that meets their particular needs.

The creator of this tool, James Charlesworth, goes to great pains in his blog post to explain how to create your own Pipe by setting up a Google Alert and then parsing that content, but then in good old Blue Peter fashion, kindly provides a link to one hes prepared earlier!

Definitely worth checking out. As part of your link-building efforts, this can be provide quick gains.