Make the Transition From Print to Digital as Smooth as Possible

By Stefanie Kure

It’s a scenario familiar to those of us involved in the B2B publishing industry: Rising production costs and postage fees combined with plummeting advertising revenue is resulting in the demise of many print publications.

Fortunately, the growing popularity of digital editions is helping to keep some of these magazines alive. Carlos Lugo, Penton Media’s director of production, delivered an information-packed session at the Kansas City Chapter Boot Camp on Oct. 1, focusing on how to best transition from print to digital. Lugo began his presentation by discussing some of the advantages of digital vs. print, which include:

  • Timeliness. When a digital issue is released, it can be viewed and downloaded instantaneously. In addition, editing and updating content can be done on the fly.
  • Increased search capability. Searchable (and tap-able) magazine content can be quickly accessed.
  • Cost reduction. Increased digital edition readership can help reduce costs associated with print and some distribution to periodical postage rate.
  • Engagement. Digital content can be brought to life via videos, animation, clickable links, surveys, and other interactive elements that drive engagement in ways print can’t.
  • Access to analytics. Analytics allow publishers and editors to determine what content in their magazine is being viewed, which ads are being clicked on, where readers are coming from geographically, and much more.
Carlos Lugo
Carlos Lugo presents at the KC Chapter Boot Camp

Next, Lugo explained how brands are using digital editions to drive revenue in two key ways:

•  Subscriptions (digital-only and digital + print)

•  Advertising opportunities exclusive to digital magazines
 – Embed videos inside of traditional print ads
 – Create click-through links within ads
 – Bring ads to life with rich media enhancements
 – Track ad performance through platform analytics
 – Use Page Zero for premium ad placement

Lugo then spent the next part of the hour-long session detailing points to consider before going digital, such as:

  • Will going to a digital edition model affect your brand, especially going digital only? Will your competition see it as a weakness?
  • How many of your users are mobile vs. tied to a desktop?
  • Should you transition all of your circulation to a digital edition or just a portion of it?
  • Publishers/editors must ensure that content is not only available online, but also that it’s optimized across as many platforms and devices as possible.
  • With the rapid adoption of tablets and smartphones, publishers/editors must adapt and be able to deliver content to those devices. Tablets, in particular, must be a major focus for B2B and B2C.
Carlos Lugo
Penton’s Carlos Lugo

Lastly, Lugo’s presentation focused on creating a digital design that works for your publication. Key takeaways included:

  • Make sure your content is delivered in a user-friendly format and makes sense for the computer/device screen. For example, use a two-column page layout for tablet computers.
  • Increase font size to limit the amount of zooming required to view articles.
  • Page dimensions and orientation can be tweaked to fill more of the on-screen real estate. Don’t be constrained by traditional portrait 8.5 inch × 11 inch orientation.
  • Design/lay out content on pages to encompass videos (i.e., placeholders).
  • Use interactivity throughout the publication to immerse your audience in a truly digital/interactive experience so it feels like digital provides a different level of value than its printed counterpart.
  • Include clear calls-to-actions throughout and numerous clickable links so that users feel in control of the navigation and overall experience.
  • Use social-media tie-ins and encourage social share of your digital content.
  • Use a responsive design platform for all digital editions
Photo of Stefanie Kure
Stefanie Kure

Stefanie Kure is senior associate editor for Penton’s EC&M magazine. She began her career in B2B publishing in 1990 with Broadcast Engineering and has held positions with several other Penton publications, including Transmission & Distribution World and Power Electronics Technology. Stefanie is a three-time ASBPE award winner and a board member of the group’s Kansas City Chapter.


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