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What to expect when pivoting to digital

As a professional publisher of a traditionally printed brand, you will need to quickly adjust to a new landscape if you’ve suddenly found yourself focused on or even fully pivoting to a digital distribution strategy, writes BlueToad's Paul DeHart.

By Paul DeHart

What to expect when pivoting to digital

Here’s what to expect:

1. Expect to retrain your readers

You’ve most likely spent years providing a less than satisfactory digital edition experience, especially on phones. If distribution changes have shifted your focus to digital, the transition in delivery expectations will be even more severe. So, your readers will require some retraining on what to expect when interacting with your brand. And it won’t just happen naturally. You will need to proactively tell readers about what you’re doing and the value of staying digitally connected to your new mobile-friendly, branded content experience.

2. Expect to rethink how you design, layout, and / or organise your content

But don’t stray too far from what’s got you to this point. Readers want, maybe even crave, the curated, packaged, and delivered content experience. It’s what sets you apart as a reliable and trustworthy source. But digital does open up different and unique design and content options compared to the pixel-perfect world of print. You should absolutely offer a responsive, mobile-friendly version of your content but even if you are continuing to support a designed page experience, you can consider larger fonts and images and design for the placement of digital assets.

3. Expect lower readership numbers when you get started but plenty of data to fuel your content strategy

Unlike print, digital provides extremely accurate data on readers and engagement with content. Publishers that are just ramping up digital promotion campaigns should expect these numbers to initially be lower than their print distribution, especially considering print pass along distribution. Ultimately though, engagement data can tell you which articles are doing well, where readers are located, and what devices they use to read content. As digital becomes a focus, this data will become even more important as you set new baselines and monitor growth.

4. Expect to rethink your monetisation strategy and how to incentivise advertisers

Because digital numbers might be lower than your reported print distribution, you will need to reconsider your advertising packages and be prepared to continue demonstrating value to advertisers. On the positive side, your digital readers are typically more committed to your brand and thus a more valuable audience. Your print ads won’t just translate to digital, so you will need to put some real thought and effort into the strategy.

Overall, pivoting to digital certainly requires some thought, but a solid digital content experience can be an important and compelling tool in staying connected with and engaging new and existing readers.

Readers want, maybe even crave, the curated, packaged, and delivered content experience.

"...create and monetise beautifully responsive digital editions and web content..."

About us

For more than a decade, BlueToad has been the digital content partner of choice for thousands of publishers across the globe to create and monetise beautifully responsive digital editions and web content. With an office in London, BlueToad is now focused on providing its GDPR compliant and award-winning solution to publishers in Europe, offering mobile editions, responsive web content, and audio publications.

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This article was first published in the Publishing Partners Guide, an annual directory distributed with InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list, please register here.