As the Global Crisis Evolves, Publishers are Focusing on Digital with a Renewed Sense of Urgency

In Featured, News by Chris Collett

By understanding their platform’s capabilities and following best practices, publishers can be confident in their digital strategy during these uncertain times.

There’s little doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the digital publishing landscape. Supply chain disruptions and reduced ad spending are forcing publishers to take a hard look at their short and long-term digital strategies. As the industry navigates these uncharted waters, we understand the needs of our publishers are drastically different than they were just weeks ago.

Our staff has been working tirelessly to ensure these new expectations are met, and it is our hope that seeing the efforts of our publishers, as well as those across the industry, will help guide others in getting the most from their digital editions.

What GTxcel Publishers are Doing

1. Testing Flexible Access Models

Many publishers are temporarily modifying their access models to give everyone full access to their library. On Turnstyle, this is typically done using one of the following methods:

Disabling Subscriber Management

By turning off subscriber management entirely, publishers are opening their full library to the general public. No login is required and no limitations are applied to the number of articles pr pages that can be read.

Offering Free Subscriptions

Publishers are opting for the free subscription approach, which allows them to collect email addresses without requiring a payment for a subscription. Used in combination with our instant delivery capability, new subscribers will be added to the subscriber database and receive a custom onboarding email immediately after submitting their information to the publisher.

Some publishers are using this feature in conjunction with their marketing or mailing platforms, allowing them to create a separate subscriber list and custom messaging for this group.

Expanding Look Inside Range​

Turnstyle’s Look Inside feature allows subscriber managed content to be accessed based on a predefined defined range of pages or articles. Typically, these are set to several pages or a single article but can be modified quickly.

2. Analyzing Changes in Reader Behavior

The consumption of content has shifted dramatically as Americans are forced to remain at home. As a result, reading routines have shifted. Publishers are leveraging every tool at their disposal to determine the best way to reach their audience, including:

  • Key Performance Indicators
  • Google Analytics
  • Custom Tracking/Pixel Beacons
  • Custom Reporting
  • Automated Reporting

Turnstyle publishers can access top-level, cross-platform data for any issue in their Publisher Dashboard. However, if they need to analyze more data points they can always dig deeper directly in the Mixpanel dashboard.

3. Optimizing for Digital Advertising

A recent IAB survey shows a majority of advertisers are pausing their digital ad spend in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. However, more than a third of those respondents are adjusting their in-market tactics and are increasing audience and device targeting. At the same time,

Publishers on the Turnstyle platform have the capability to target specific elements within the Webreader, including individual issues, articles, article categories, and ad slots.

4. Increasing Reader Engagement with Rich Media

Many publishers have enthusiastically embraced video and podcasting as new forms of storytelling, finding them a natural add-on to their existing content. Readers have become accustomed to seeing content supplemented by multimedia, and Turnstyle makes it easy to include rich media to digital editions. By using built-in tools like our JW Player article add-on, or simply embedding from other platforms like Youtube or SoundCloud, publishers can benefit from enhancing existing content.

5. Leveraging the Flexibility of Content Hub

Publishers have been praising the flexibility of Content Hub and its ability to exhibit content from multiple sources alongside articles from their digital library. During the current health crisis, we’ve seen our publishing partners take full advantage of its capabilities. For example:

  • Place a banner above their articles and archives to announce free access for the duration of the crisis.
  • Highlight timely, topic-specific articles from different issues in the archive
  • Embed live-streams, webinars, virtual events or podcasts adjacent to relevant articles and content

6. Syndicating Content with Article RSS

Using Turnstyle’s ability to syndicate articles, RSS feeds can be dynamically generated using any number of categories and filters. Specify single or multiple categories, choose individual issues or an entire collection, and even filter cover images and advertisements. By using article syndication, publishers are able to give their content maximum exposure across a myriad of platforms and applications.

7. Customizing Articles for the Digital Audience

One of the biggest benefits of digital editions is the ability to enhance and customize content that was originally created for the printed page. While articles in Turnstyle are responsive by default, many publishers are going a step further by adding supplementary content, advertisements, rich media, and other elements that increase audience engagement.

8. Formalizing Audience Communication

Publishers have multiple channels through which they can communicate with their readers. For example:

  • Onboarding/Instant Delivery emails
  • New Issue Notification/Reminder Emails
  • In-App Messages
  • Push Notifications

It’s important that each of these channels is used properly so as not to become spammy. Emails should always use responsive templates and follow best practices. Publishers who incorporate these channels into a formal and consistent messaging strategy will build trust with their audience and be rewarded with an increase in reader engagement.

From the Digital Publishing Industry

Digital Publishers are taking action in many ways. We’ve listed a few here that we hope will be helpful.

Allow Pauses in Subscriptions

A number of publishers have seen a spike in subscription cancelation requests. Research has shown that publishers that offer customers the option to pause and resume their subscriptions see a significantly lower churn rate compared to publishers who don’t.

Produce Content for the Moment

Understanding what your readers need in the immediate future will help answer many of the questions many publishers are facing, such as changing editorial content, issue frequency, page count or subscription models. Help them understand what this crisis means for the specific topic your publication serves.

Convert Print-Only Subscribers to Digital

Many subscribers still prefer the print edition over digital. However, as supply chain disruptions have made it nearly impossible to meet that goal, converting those folks to digital may be a little easier. Proving the value of digital to these holdouts with supplementary content such as video, digital-only articles, etc could possibly convert them permanently.

Consider User-Generated Content

User-generated content is the foundation of many social media giants. Your readers understand the topic of your publication, and in many instances may be subject matter experts. By letting them share their stories you get a better understanding of how this pandemic is affecting your readership.

Look for Long-Term Support

This may be a good time to offer a long-term subscription to your readers to show that they support your publication. By adding premium options such as special reports or white papers, exclusive interviews, or group access on social media, readers may be eager to pay for a yearly subscription.

Cross-Brand Cooperation

Many publishers may be in different niches, but have a good cross-section of readers. Consumer, B2B and Association titles could look within their own verticals for opportunities to share subscribers.

How Can We Help?

At GTxcel, we view our publishers as partners, and our customer service has been consistently been a point of pride. As always, if there is anything we can do to assist you during this historical event please reach out and let us know.

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