The evolution of digital publishing has definitely lowered production and distribution costs, but it hasn't made it easier to find new audiences for your digital edition, app or e-newsletter internationally. It's difficult enough domestically, but finding new eyeballs overseas can be particularly frustrating.
However, there are ways to make the process easier. Rebecca McPheters, CEO of audience-development consulting firm McPheters & Co., recommends being sure that your publication is easily searchable.
“Publications should be clearly identified as a magazine or newspaper to be readily found by browsers,” she said, “and if the app name differs from the publication's name, be sure the magazine's title is prominently placed in the description of the product.”
She added that when publishers sell apps, some choose to only publish in a subset of app stores. “If you want to maximize international distribution, you need to make sure that your app is for sale globally,” she said. “Additionally, given increasing globalization, it is the best way to maintain contact with those whom you may already have a relationship with but who are no longer living in your core geography.”
McPheters said she has also found that in-app advertising for products serving a similar market can help reach more potential audiences. She suggested trading in-app ads with that product.
Bobit Business Media uses traditional list-acquisition strategies to gain international markets in addition to nontraditional ones. “We depend on the relationships that our editorial and sales staffs have with international associations,” said Tony Napoleone, senior audience marketing manager at Bobit. “Our teams have done a great job of watching for opportunities and connecting us when there may be something worth pursuing.”
Bobit has some promotional templates ready so that it can quickly turn around print and e-promo collateral for the international groups to deploy to their existing audiences, Napoleone said. “It turns into a great situation where we get an expanded universe and they are able to offer additional targeted products to their membership base,” he said.
Desiree Forsyth, principal of circulation consultancy Density Media, said marketers should make a real effort to break through the barriers of language, familiarity, competition and different regulations to partner with willing international organizations.
Forsyth also suggested paying for targeted search ads to help grow internationally, as well as promoting the international digital version on your website differently than the U.S. version. “You can serve different ads, pop-ups and page peels depending on location,” she said.
Many marketers emphasize the “going green” aspect of a digital edition, even though it's generally not the reason international subscribers seek out digital products. Instead, it is more about the speed of getting the publication well before the printed version. “It's our job as marketers to sell them on the "have to have' of the digital edition,” she said.
Forsyth also highly recommended social media: “Seventy percent of Facebook users are outside the U.S.,” she said. “Social media has helped make the world a much smaller place, and we need to use these tools to take advantage of that.” She suggested placing highly targeted ads for international users that don't just hit them up generally but address specific sale points.
Reaching a more global audience is much easier when the publication is also offered in several languages, McPheters said. “Few U.S. publishers are building multi-language capabilities into their apps,” she said. “The ability to access content in multiple languages will certainly broaden the appeal. Even in the U.S., we are surprised that more publishers are not offering a Spanish- language option.”