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Any Questions – Rebekah Billingsley

Last week, Rebekah Billingsley presented a webinar for InPublishing, entitled ‘How to Measure the Success of Your Digital Magazine - the main KPIs and how to measure them.’ In the Q&A session that followed, we ran out of time. Here, Rebekah provides a follow-up Q&A.

By Rebekah Billingsley

Q. A big issue overall seems to be making digital magazines pay; how can analytics help improve profitability and help find new revenue?

A. If you measure all of the relevant areas of your magazine’s performance, then you can make rational, strategic decisions which allow you to grow your revenues. Here are some real life examples which led to increased sales performance:

* Sales of the Healthy Eating issue on BBC Good Food Magazine far outsold other issues. We created a standalone bookazine on healthy eating knowing it would sell well. We also labelled all issues of the magazine going forwards as ‘BBQ issue’, ‘Al Fresco issue’, ‘Comfort Food issue’, etc.

* Overseas conversion rates of download to product purchase on the BBC Focus Magazine were incredibly low. We felt that awareness of the brand was low and the title wasn’t clear enough, so we changed the titles to ‘BBC Science Focus Magazine’

* After testing different colours of their ‘subscribe now’ button, a client increased conversion rates by tracking clicks via different colours.

Q. Have you got any tips for driving people to read a digital trade magazine without just sharing the articles in another form such as an email story to grab their attention?

A. Social media sharing is really effective in some sectors. I have magazines reporting 18% referrals where they share articles via social media. You would also be encouraging users to log in via Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn and could potentially capture their data that way too. You should also use your own digital assets or look at partnering with relevant titles.

Q. Did you have any challenges with matching Apple App Store sales to specific magazine issues as this isn't always apparent in the data?

A. There are a number of discrepancies. There are two systems used to report sales: App Figures which gives you detailed sales data and iTunes Connect which aligns to the revenue you’ll actually receive into your bank account. I recommend using App Figures for issue data. It will differ slightly from your actual revenues for a few reasons: Apple pays in their own fiscal period which is different to the monthly reporting you’ll run; they adjust for any refunds given; currency payments and VAT may differ slightly. If it helps, when we ran analysis across a huge account such as Immediate’s, we found the two to be within 1% accuracy.

Q. What digital magazine platforms are best for analytics?

A. All of the key platform providers have analytics embedded and use either Flurry or Google Analytics. You also have App Figures data, Google Play data and so on to analyse sales. None of the analytics packages are built for digital magazines and many have flaws, such as time spent will be massively over reported when a user leaves the app open on a page. It all depends on what you want to measure and why, but I prefer Google Analytics because it’s more familiar to me and provides most of what you’d need. But it’s very important you’re familiar with what your platform provider offers and you utilise it fully; one of the biggest gaps I see is publishers not being aware or using what they have and it’s often all there...

Q. Should we not be looking at getting specific tracking software into apps to help better track activity through to conversion? This might be at the expense of affiliate revenue but the insight would arguably be more valuable?

A. Absolutely. Like any nascent business, technology companies are going to see the big holes in the market and start filling the gaps. I’m always looking for something exciting in this area, so if anyone has anything for me to look at, please get in touch!

Q. Do you know any success stories from niche publishers - say with print sales of 10,000 a month and digital sales of 500 a month?

A. As you can imagine, publishers are protective of their numbers unless they’re being audited. 5% of print being digital is pretty high as a percentage right now. A recent US article estimated around 2.4% of all sales in the last half of 2012 were digital. It depends on the sector; technology titles do very well, soaps titles do not but look here for the last ABC numbers.

Q. What kind of uplift in downloads and sales do you get with Apple newsstand promotion and how do you go about getting it?

A. It depends obviously, but we could see something around 300% uplift in downloads, 30% in sales on big titles. Apple will promote titles that appeal to their audience or that utilise the technology of the iPad, so they want interactive, high retina titles. In the meantime, review your shop front, your keywords, your app description and ensure it’s as good as it can be.

You can watch a recording of Rebekah’s webinar here.