We often get asked the question “Why should we make our magazine digital?” by membership organisations.

That is just what we aimed to address in our talk at the Memberwise conference yesterday, entitled ‘Reinventing your membership magazine for the digital age’.

Graham Duffill opened the talk by exploring how existing membership organisations are using digital publishing to enhance their magazines. Using the Times Educational Supplement as a client case study, he talked through the options available to open up digital editions of membership magazines, from searchable online archives to native and web apps. Crucially, members must be able to log in to these with existing membership user-names and passwords.

He compared the digital publishing workflow to Clapham junction (see diagram below), with almost unlimited input options to suit the organisation’s current outputs, from blogs and PDF magazines to video and audio extras. These can be transformed automatically or can be manually edited and styled to be made available on web browsers and mobile/tablet devices.
Page Lizard Clapham Junction diagram

Graham’s selection of factoids emphasised the necessity for a member magazine to be available across Android and Apple, as the organisation cannot afford to cater for just a small proportion of its members. The best way to achieve this is through beautifully styled, responsive HTML which can be published to multiple devices, therefore becoming available to the maximum number of people.

Retaining membership magazine engagement

87.5% of PJ's readers are repeat users, indicating a high level of engagement with the publication

87.5% of PJ’s readers are repeat users, indicating a high level of engagement with the publication

Joe Hrano then stepped forward to talk about the effect digital membership magazines are having on member retention, engagement and expansion. He discussed the differences between PDF and HTML view, and brought together the significant benefits of being able to add audio and video to the digital versions. Live news feeds are another way of increasing engagement within the app and member organisation outside of routine publication dates; and combined with the ability to comment and share using social media, the result is a social hub where more information is more easily available to readers (click here to see Joe’s blog post on creating a Social Hub).

Joe drew on The Pharmaceutical Journal as a case study, as 87.5% of readers are repeat users. The Journal’s recent switch from PDF to HTML view has increased dwell time and overall engagement with the app, and will no doubt continue to bring long term benefits to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s relationship with its members.

Responsive designs on a budget

Finally, Esther Harding explored what could be achieved technically and creatively with digital editions of membership magazines. Firstly, she talked through some design concerns, reinforcing the need to be cross-platform and mobile responsive. The key point was that a balance can be achieved between making a publication responsive and cost-effective to produce without compromising the design.

CILIP, the membership magazine for librarians and information professionals, was drawn on as the first example of a traditional magazine which has reinvented itself through the digital version. The most recent 80 page edition took less than a day to digitise and style from scratch, demonstrating perfectly what can be achieved in very little time.

Edge, the magazine of the Institute of Leadership and Management, was also used as an example of a complex print design, reliant on high quality photographs and advanced typography. The editor, Helen Mayson, talked about the choices she had made when exploring digital editions, and why she had chosen to work with Page Lizard. She also discussed the challenges faced when producing the digital version with us, and how we had worked together to overcome them.

The session ended with a question-and-answer session, in which the audience was keen to learn more about how to cater for a wide variety of members, and how to digitise on a budget.

View our slides below:

Want to learn more about the options available for digitising your publications? Get in touch with us!



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