There can be many reasons why the first step can be the most difficult. You are pushed for time, you have little experience with digital content, you don’t have a clear picture of what you want, there are many other demands on your company’s resources… and so on. The aim of this blog is to help you to get off to a flying start when producing your first web publication. Just follow this practical 10-step plan. So, let’s get started.
1. Identify your objectives
Deciding on your objectives can’t be all that difficult, you might think. But in practice, the objectives are not always clear enough. What do you really want to achieve? And what is the purpose of your digital publication? At what stage of your customer journey will the content play a role? Generally speaking, the more specific your objectives, the better. For example, they could include:
Combining multiple objectives is possible too, of course. But don’t forget to add some detail. If your aim is ‘sales‘, is your web publication the only channel that you will use to do this? Is the idea to generate traffic to your web shop, or to support up-selling within your existing customer base? Or will it provide ‘ammunition’ for your colleagues to use during the sales process? This is an interesting blog to read when deciding on your aims: ‘providing information is not a goal in itself’.
2. Identify your web publication target group
Knowing who you want to reach will help you to make the choices that you’ll need to make. Tone of voice, content distribution strategy, range of content, type of content, interaction preferences, and so on. Often, using a persona to write content can work very effectively. Who will be reading your content, what does he/she care about and where is he/she located?
3. Define the critical success factors
Make it measurable. Please. No matter how small. Are you aiming for thought leadership? Measure the number of shares on social media, how long people spend reading, the number of new followers on your social business pages, the number of new subscribers… Are you aiming for leads? Try to persuade people to complete contact forms or applications on your website.
4. Decide how to structure your content
Try to put yourself in the position of someone receiving the magazine and make sure you use an uncluttered editorial formula. Which subjects? Tips & tricks? Case study, product or service page? Which editorial format? An interview? Q&A? A long read? Video and/or infographic? If you will be publishing on a regular basis, you’ll be able to see which types of content and formats work best over several publications. You can also keep an eye on how much content to provide.
5. Create your content (texts, images and videos)
Halfway through, because there’s more. Maybe you can find input from within your organization. You could interview clients or colleagues yourself. Can you reuse existing content (blogs, case studies, landing pages)? Are there existing articles that you could purchase, for example from ANP or journals? Or are you going to outsource the content creation to a copywriter? And how about images and videos? Are you going to produce your own photographic material or use stock photos?
6. Start designing your publication
First, gather together all the elements of your corporate identity, such as fonts, logos, and web colors. Then define the templates that you want to hang the content on. It pays to spend some time on this, because in future editions you can simply hang the content on your existing templates. Don’t have the skills in-house to work on this step? Don’t panic. Check out how you can set up your brand style guidelines.
7. Check, check, check and double check
Even though you are using tried and tested responsive templates, it is important to try out your publication on a range of devices. Does the headline banner accidentally obscure somebody’s face when the page is displayed on a mobile device? Have you entered the Google analytics code correctly? Is your domain linked properly and do the links point to the right pages?
8. (optional): Do an A/B test or a soft launch
The beauty of online publishing is that it is very easy to test your assumptions and try out different formats. You can do this using different templates, content formats and sequences of items. But you can also do it with simpler things like a contact form: does it work better if it appears automatically in a pop-up, or if you put it on a page of its own?
9. Spread the word
Almost last but certainly not least – make sure that you have a good distribution strategy. The publication will only come to life once you have started distributing it. You can create the best content in the world, but that’s not worth anything if nobody reads it. Getting your publication to the right people is hard work. So create a comprehensive email distribution list, collect followers on social media, place the magazine on your website and add it to your email signature. You can also generate traffic using text or display ads on relevant networks and search engines. And don’t forget to share individual pages and to resend your email to anyone who hasn’t opened the first one yet.
Do you want to extend the ‘engagement’ with your visitors? Place a re-marketing pixel in your publications, so that you can contact your visitors again easily.
10. Analyze and apply lessons learned
The beauty of digital is that you can measure whether you really have reached your target audience or not. And whether your content is relevant. Based on the success factors that you specified in Step 3, you evaluate whether your publication is succeeding. Keep an eye on exit rates, scroll depths, and outbound clicks. Are your videos being viewed? Are people sharing your content? How much time are people spending on a page? Remember that people read about 250 words per page.
I hope that this plan has given you some ideas and useful advice, and motivated you to get started.
What is a digital web publication?
A digital web publication is an online resource that provides content such as articles, blogs, videos, and other media, often focused on specific topics and accessible to a wide audience via the internet.
What are the key steps to create a digital web publication?
Key steps include defining your niche and target audience, choosing a suitable platform, designing a user-friendly website, creating high-quality content, and implementing a distribution and marketing strategy.
How do you choose the right platform for a digital web publication?
Choose a platform based on your technical skills, the type of content you’ll be publishing, and the level of customization and control you need. Popular options include WordPress, Medium, and Squarespace.
What role does website design play in a digital web publication?
Website design is crucial as it affects user experience, engagement, and brand perception. A well-designed site should be visually appealing, easy to navigate, and mobile-responsive.
How important is content quality in a digital web publication?
High-quality content is essential to attract and retain readers, establish credibility, and improve search engine rankings. It should be informative, engaging, and relevant to your audience.
What are effective ways to promote a digital web publication?
Effective promotion strategies include SEO, social media marketing, email newsletters, collaborations with influencers, and leveraging analytics to understand and reach your audience.
How can you monetize a digital web publication?
Monetization options include advertising, sponsored content, affiliate marketing, subscriptions, selling digital products, and offering premium content or memberships.
What is the role of SEO in a digital web publication?
SEO helps improve visibility in search engine results, driving organic traffic to your site. It involves using relevant keywords, optimizing content and meta tags, and building backlinks.
How do you maintain a consistent publishing schedule?
Use a content calendar to plan and schedule your posts in advance. Consistency is key to keeping your audience engaged and building a loyal readership.
What analytics should be monitored for a digital web publication?
Monitor analytics such as website traffic, user behavior, engagement metrics, and conversion rates to understand your audience better and refine your content and marketing strategies.
What considerations are important when choosing a domain name for a digital web publication?
Choose a domain name that is memorable, easy to spell, relevant to your content, and aligns with your brand identity. Avoid complex spellings and overly long names.
How can you ensure your digital web publication is mobile-friendly?
Opt for a responsive web design that automatically adjusts to different screen sizes, and regularly test your site on various devices to ensure a seamless mobile experience.
What are effective content strategies for a digital web publication?
Effective content strategies include understanding your audience’s interests, producing diverse content formats, maintaining a consistent voice, and offering unique perspectives or insights.
How important is multimedia content in a digital web publication?
Multimedia content like images, videos, and podcasts can significantly enhance engagement, break up text, and provide a richer user experience.
Can social media integration benefit a digital web publication?
Integrating social media can drive traffic, increase content visibility, and facilitate audience interaction and sharing, enhancing the overall reach of the publication.
What security measures should be considered for a digital web publication?
Implement security measures such as SSL certificates, regular software updates, secure hosting, and data backup plans to protect against cyber threats and data breaches.
How can user feedback be utilized in a digital web publication?
User feedback, obtained through comments, surveys, or analytics, can provide valuable insights into content preferences, usability issues, and areas for improvement.
What is the significance of a strong call-to-action (CTA) in web publications?
A strong CTA guides readers to take a desired action, whether it’s subscribing to a newsletter, downloading a resource, or engaging with content, thereby enhancing user engagement and conversion rates.
How do you manage and moderate user comments in digital publications?
Use comment moderation tools to filter spam and inappropriate content, establish clear commenting guidelines, and actively engage with your audience to foster a positive community.
What are some common challenges in running a digital web publication, and how can they be addressed?
Common challenges include sustaining reader interest, managing content creation, and staying updated with technology and market trends. These can be addressed by regularly updating content strategies, seeking user feedback, and continuous learning and adaptation.