“Print is dead!” - We all have heard this before. However, print still fascinates people and there is a steady stream of new publications despite all the proclamations of all the naysayers. Customer magazines remain a popular marketing tool in many sectors. Whether they are effective largely depends on strategy.
Creating a customer magazine takes a lot of effort. And as we all know, effort and costs go hand in hand. Compared to online media, the success of print communication is not easily measured. Since magazines are usually free and analogue, neither sales nor traffic can be used to gain insights on the magazine's effectiveness.
Nevertheless, sectors such as the energy and health industries value customer magazines as a valuable tool. They have plenty of reasons to do so:
1. Image: A carefully designed print magazine on good paper leaves a more lasting impression than a website usually does. Moreover, the magazine is completely in control of the business publishing it, which gives it ample room to strengthen brand awareness. A good balance of information and entertainment engages people intellectually and emotionally.
2. Look and feel: One of the reasons why print is still alive is that it offers a different sensory experience than texts displayed on a screen. Depending on the type of paper used, the feel is totally different. So is the smell (ink or perfume). It also requires different movements (turning of pages). Moreover, a magazine has a stronger presence in the lives of people. It is a physical object and as such readers may return to reading it more often than to a social media post.
3. Efficiency: Articles with journalistic quality appear more authentic. Readers also spend more time with print products than with individual web sites. It all comes down to a simple question: Which online ad enjoys 20 minutes attention?
4. Customer loyalty: Customers usually find the magazines directly in their mail boxes. The magazine regularly presents updates on the business and its services, but also provides information that goes beyond the promotion of new offers. Take a health insurance company as an example: the customer magazine could include recipes for healthy dishes as well as workout tips. Customers will appreciate the added value offered by the print magazine.
5. Content is king: The customer magazine should not be viewed as an adverting tool. Its purpose is to give customers and business partners information they will appreciate. At the same time, the magazine can be used to make customers curious about new developments. When browsing through the pages of the magazine, they might find topics of interest they have not yet been aware of. Look at it this way: they are not being advertised to, but they discover new products through the magazine.
6. Increase revenue: The customer magazine is a great tool for image and customer retention. It can also drive revenue as it offers plenty of space to place products and service within an information-driven context. The value of products can be illustrated with concrete application examples.
Customer magazines and digital marketing strategy
Many companies have recognized the shift in media consumption from print to digital. This does not necessarily have to be bad for print magazines. Digital media can increase the effectiveness of customer magazines by extending them digitally.
However, this does not mean that publishing a PDF file of the customer magazine is a sound digital strategy. Rather, marketers should try to bridge the gap between digital and analogue. There are many different ways in which this can be done. The goal is to generate marketing qualified leads and to be able to measure the effectiveness of the magazine.
Learn more fact on corporate publishing in our infographic:
Extending customer magazines digitally
The main issue with customer magazines is that they usually do not generate data. That is why businesses have to come up with ways to link their magazines to digital media.
There are many ways in which this can be done:
Customers always value businesses that want to hear their opinions. A customer magazine does not have to be a one way street. Businesses can use the magazine to ask customers about their opinions on various issues. The readers could reply to these questions on social media using given hashtags or via email.
Another possibility are online forums created by the company. The business could encourage readers to join the online forum to further discuss the content of the magazine, e.g. application examples given in the magazine or to ask the business questions that were not sufficiently addressed in the print product.
Let us return to the health insurance customer magazine example for a brief moment: the magazine includes workout tips to stay in shape. Even though the workout can be described in detail and feature photographs, the readers could also be asked to scan a QR code to be redirected to the business's YouTube channel where they find a video of the workout.
You discuss an application in the customer magazine. Maybe you have produced a white paper in the past tackling a similar issue. Why not give your readers a link to the white paper. If they want to access the white paper, however, they have to fill out a registration form. This way you gain additional insights about your customers while enhancing the value of your customer magazine.
It not only works from analogue to digital, it can also be the other way around. Encourage online users to subscribe to your magazine by promoting it on social media and your website. Create a landing page with a registration form and generate new leads!
Customer magazines can still be valuable marketing instruments as long as they are part of an integrated marketing strategy. Paramount the the effectiveness of this endeavor is tracking actions triggered by the magazine. This requires marketing automation software that keeps track of every communication channel you use and stores the generated data centrally. By bridging the gap from analogue to digital, the software will also be able to track the traffic generated by your magazine.
The benefits at a glance:
- Generate valuable customer data.
- Create a seamless customer experience.
- Offer customers a rich communication.
- Track the success of the magazine.
Our services: Are you thinking about publishing your own customer magazine or are you looking for ways to integrate the magazine in your overall marketing strategy? From content to layout to tracking, we can offer all services involved from a single source. Get in touch!