Digital media have disrupted the traditional publishing business models, but they have also created new opportunities. So what is working and what is not in today’s publishing marketplace?
Florin Campeanu: If someone tries to tell you about something that will work 100% on digital media, just ignore them. They know absolutely nothing about new technologies or online marketing strategies. There is only one way to discover what works in
this new publishing business model: trial and error! What works in USA could be a disaster on the German market; what works in Poland could be a catastrophe in Bulgaria. We’ve learned that we have to try everything out: formats, prices, Internet marketing channels. And if it works, we test it again, always trying to find what is best for us. Online is the new religion. If you’re not in, you don’t exist. Period.
We know that technology is transforming the information business, and with it the content and marketing options. But who is buying information online and in what forms? Most importantly, how can we reach these customers and persuade them to buy digital content?
Florin Campeanu: Even if it’s hard to believe, people do change. So when they find a new, efficient way to discover specialized information, they immediately adopt it. New technologies have irreversibly changed the information business. Old newspapers are going online, newsletters and loose leaf services are going entirely electronic (pdf) or online. The number of buyers of the ‚traditional‘ format is falling – even during the second you are reading these words. We live in a fast world, and the Internet is the best way to deliver information, including specialized Information. The formats don’t matter if the information is valuable. Websites, blogs, portals, special reports, pdf books. Our prospective clients are online, so we have to be online in order to reach them. How do we persuade them to buy digital content? By being what we have been in the print medium: professionals.
If you want your content to be found online, you have to learn to work with Google. What are the challenges and risks in your opinion?
Florin Campeanu: Google has really changed the world. And I mean the entire world, not only the Internet world. Developing a strategy, an online strategy, without thinking of Google is like starting a trip in the Sahara desert without water. Google is simple, that’s why it’s so powerful. Your Google strategy has to be simple, too. If you want your content to be found online, you have to be RELEVANT. Being relevant is the challenge. The risk is being irrelevant. In-between you’ll find keywords, unique content, page ranks, links, site structures, titles, meta and domain names.
What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing the publishing industry today?
Florin Campeanu: Challenges are a good thing, challenges take us out of our routine… The biggest challenge? The transition from print to online. It’s obvious: print is becoming history, in terms of both marketing and editorial. The future seems to belong to e-book readers. At least for now. And to iPads. That’s the challenge: how to move from print to online (or to electronic versions), raise your number of subscribers and, of course, increase your profits.
How do you see technology impacting on publishing over the next 5 years? What does the publisher’s future look like?
Florin Campeanu: I’ll answer that one by asking you a different question: how do you see the publishing sector without technology over the next month, let alone over the next 5 years? The romantic era of publishing is over. Writing copy, making a good order form, a nice envelope and a great teaser is not enough any more… If you think you can survive and progress without landing pages, SEO, AdWords or portals, then you can expect to go bankrupt very soon. Now publishers have to face a new challenge. We have to learn technical things like CTR or CPC. If we don’t accept that we have to change quickly, we have no chance. But, on the other hand, the new technology is what we missed out on in the past in order to move on to the next step. We can get more subscribers, we can get more money, and we can develop our businesses. We just have to be prepared.
Which Internet marketing tools have proven to be the most effective in your experience?
Florin Campeanu: If a publishing company wants to make its first steps in the Internet marketing ‚field‘, I have two ideas for them: search-engine optimization and an email-marketing strategy. There are thousands of articles about SEO, so it’s superfluous to say anything more here. Just one sentence: don’t invest money in SEM, especially AdWords, unless you have an SEO strategy that works. The best Internet marketing tool is the… email address. We have created our online strategy around email. This is something I’ve learned from the Agora people. I remember Andrew Palmer’s and Brian York’s presentation on this subject about 8 years ago, and the strategy has never been more topical. An effective email marketing tool, like My E-Campaigns (the tool we use) is a must for publishers. The editor of an e-letter only needs to insert the content, the images and the ads – it only takes few minutes – and watch what happens. It’s that simple. Once we have a complete report, including the opening rate – but, most importantly the map of the clicks made by each subscriber – the decision is very simple. Yes, the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced: this email marketing tool really helped us to boost our online sales.
What do social media tools like Twitter mean for publishing? (or: Is Twitter a must-have for publishers?)
Florin Campeanu: Social media… Good question! I like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and I like the new Google ‚tool‘ Buzz. But to progress from this feeling to monetizing these tools for our business is a long way to go. We have been trying Twitter from the very beginning, but we still can’t make a direct connection between our followers and our… bank accounts. Twitter works well to increase traffic on online projects. But you have to choose these projects very well, otherwise this traffic will not ‚qualify‘ and you will have done a lot of work for nothing. So, to answer your question, it’s quite hard to use Twitter to increase the sales of taxes and duties newsletters, labor law newsletters or loose leaf services…
Does digital publishing automatically mean mobile publishing as well? (or: Is digital publishing mobile publishing?)
Florin Campeanu: Definitely. iPhone, BlackBerry, HTC are keywords that will define our publishing future. And this is just the beginning. Some publishers have realized that this future is very close, even already upon us, so they have decided to invest money and energy in this mobile publishing concept. I really think this is the winning card! We are experiencing difficult times in our businesses, so the most important thing is to adapt. We have to offer the same specialized information more quickly, in a second if possible. Mobile publishing can do that. If you don’t do it, you might be out of this business by nightfall.
Florin Campeanu is speaker at SIPA Munich 2010.