Carolyn Morgan looks at how DIVE magazine took the plunge from UK-centric print to digital freedom, and discovered a world of new ad revenues. A daring strategy from an independent publisher, earning a place on the Media Pioneers 2012 shortlist.
DIVE had been the UK's leading scuba diving magazine for more than decade. But sales were declining on all fronts - subs, newsstand and advertising. With the advent of mobile and tablet devices, they quickly developed a strategy for launching an app and during that process realised they had reached a crossroads. On one hand there was a global audience for a top quality digital magazine with possibilities to further strengthen online revenue streams and the possibility to sell new products such as digital guides and books to a far larger market. On the other were declining UK sales, a stagnant display ad market and a rapidly disappearing classified ad base.
The strategy was set. Turn DIVE into an international free digital-only magazine.
The team put in place four core principles to succeed.
1. Free: To attract as many divers and diving interested people as possible
2. Ease of access: The reader decides how they will read DIVE. PC/Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android Tablet or smartphone, Amazon Kindle, any way they choose
3. Simple: Sign up process to be as easy as possible. One registration to access all platforms, no special subs codes, just email address.
4. High Quality: Maintain the high editorial quality and stunning images.
The target was to reach 50,000 subscribers by the end of year one making DIVE the largest scuba title in Europe, America and Australia.
Key to success would be to have a database that could be easily data-mined. DIVE chose to base their infrastructure around an email marketing database as opposed to a traditional subscription database, providing:
1) Double Opt-in sign up process for maximum credibility. This would guarantee genuine subscribers who wanted to read the issues.
2) Auto responder messaging to automatically inform the subscriber through the sign up process and any marketing messages.
3) A central database that could ‘talk’ to all platforms/devices with just a few lines of API code as opposed to paying a traditional print subscription service to develop their print centric systems.
4) Cut the data any which way: eg finding how many divers in Cornwall, who dive more than 50 times a year and qualified for diving within the last 2 years should be as easy as pressing a few buttons for the answer.
Simon Simmons, Operations Director, is delighted with the results: “It took us 2 months (October and November) to put in place our new strategy and in December 2011 the first free digital issue of DIVE was launched.
Now just three months later the strategy is paying off. DIVE is growing at over 1,000 subscribers a week. This is a refreshing change from declining readership month after month, year after year, of a printed issue.
DIVE is already the 2nd largest dive magazine in the UK in just three issues and within 3 months DIVE will be the largest UK diving magazine again. Within 6 months DIVE will have more subscribers than all of the UK diving magazines combined.
DIVE is truly international. We have subscribers in more than 140 countries.
After working in a sector that had been experiencing only decline for the last five years, it is exciting to be creating a title which is only showing growth in every way - an excitement that is shared by our contributors, our readers and our advertisers.”
This is a truly audacious strategy for a small publisher, but it does demonstrate the appetite of readers worldwide for good quality specialist content and the opportunity to tap into new advertising revenues in more buoyant parts of the world.
The Media Pioneer Awards recognise innovation and achievement in specialist media. Winners will be announced at the Specialist Media Show on 24 May 2012. To find out more about the 2012 Media Pioneer Awards and how to enter, contact email@example.com
The 2012 Media Pioneer Awards are sponsored by Audience Media.