- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On July 6, 2015
- Digital magazines
If you’ve decided to go digital with your hospital newsletter, you’re not alone. The Internet is no longer just a nice addition to your marketing plan but an integral component, and if you don’t move ahead now, other hospitals and health systems will leave you behind.
“Going digital” involves a lot more than just taking your print content and publishing it online, however. Creating compelling content that will engage readers and spur them to take action may be the hardest part, but when you’ve finished that, your work is far from over. Print readers and digital readers have different habits and expectations, and all your effort is wasted if no one reads your newsletter in the first place. These 13 steps will help you create content readers love—and make sure they can find it.
1. Know your audience
You should understand who your audience is and what they’re looking for before you decide to launch a digital magazine. This knowledge affects much more than just how you tailor your content; a hospital trying to reach young, tech-savvy Northern Californians will have much higher expectations from its audience than one targeting Florida retirement communities. Aim too low with the former demographic and you’ll fail to impress them; aim too high with the latter and you could risk losing them due to technological overload.
Even if you think you already know your audience, you should still make personas for your current and prospective patients. Marketing personas cover basic market demographics, then dive deeper to uncover the common routines, activities, goals, and obstacles of your target audience. Click here to download a free persona template to help you get started.
2. Be flexible
Flexibility is valuable with any marketing tool, and digital magazines offer it in spades. Analytics show you exactly what your readers are looking at and for how long, allowing you to make adjustments on the fly. Having a plan will help you get off the ground; being open to changing it based on what your analytics data says will help you stay airborne.
3. Optimize email subscription forms
It doesn’t help to know your audience and have the tools to give them what they want if you can’t actually reach them. Make sure your landing pages and the calls to action on your website and blog are inviting and show visitors what they’ll get when they hand over their email addresses.
4. Leverage social media
You can only email people so often, but social media offers virtually unlimited interaction. It’s more than just a way to distribute your digital magazine; you can also use it to foster conversations, manage giveaways, share additional information and photos from events, and answer questions.
5. Promote it everywhere
Your digital magazine may only be online, but your promo efforts shouldn’t be. Especially if you’re making the switch from print to digital, you should take every opportunity to tell people about it in your marketing materials and in person. Have a tablet at hospital events so that people can see for themselves what you have to offer. If your hospital offers wifi for patients and visitors, promote the magazine when they connect.
6. Test it everywhere
Of course, it wouldn’t be very good if someone tried to open up your digital magazine and it didn’t load properly or, worse, failed to load at all. With a medium that’s designed for mobile users, it’s important to test it on as many devices as you can. It’s not just iOS vs. Android and screen size to watch out for, either; optimizing for different versions of operating systems, browsers, and plugins is all part of making sure everyone gets an optimal user experience.
7. Optimize for search engines
Don’t forget about SEO just because you’re not publishing magazine articles on your hospital’s website. Make sure search engines can find your content and any landing pages you have promoting the magazine.
8. Make back issues available
When people read a blog post they like, it’s easy to click on the archives to read more content. It wasn’t so easy with print, but with digital magazines, there’s no reason why the archives shouldn’t be available with the tap of a finger. Keywords in new articles can even link to older ones for more information, combining print and digital functionality.
9. Reach out for reviews
Reviews help you in two ways: They give you feedback about what you’re doing right (or wrong), and they give users who are on the ledge about signing up added incentive to click on the subscribe button. You could just search for comments on social media and hope readers have something positive to say, or you can reach out to subscribers who’ve read the magazine and ask them to share what they thought.
10. Integrate different types of media
You’ve surely heard how effective video is at reaching consumers these days. To share a video in a print magazine, though, you’d have had to provide readers with a link and hope they type it into their web browser. You could use a tracking link to see how many people did that, but the numbers would almost certainly be (very) low. When you go digital, you can embed that video directly into the pages of your magazine for readers to view with a click or a tap.
Just make sure your video previews are clearly marked with play buttons or calls to action so your readers don’t mistake them for ordinary images.
11. Give readers a road map
Consumers don’t spend any less time reading digital magazines than they do print, but that doesn’t mean they have time to waste looking for what they want to read. Your table of contents should link directly to each article, as should any pointers to other pages throughout the magazine.
12. Maximize readability
It doesn’t matter how old or young your audience is—no one wants to spend time squinting at a small or otherwise difficult-to-read font. Computers and mobile devices offer ways to zoom in on content, but not everyone will bother, and your bounce rate will suffer.
13. Make sharing icons thumb-friendly
Similarly, no one wants to pinch and zoom just to click a share button. Sure, readers could copy and paste the URL manually, but forcing them to put in extra effort to share your content is as good as telling them to forget about it.