A Strategy for Web Immersion
Go to any magazine event, and you’re likely to hear this word with a hint of desperation: tactile. That’s the reason many publishers give for not having a strong online presence—readers like a magazine in their hands. True, but they like a PDA in it as well, and there seems to be a wireless laptop for every lap in the country. In other words, it may be time to trade in tactile for a new tactic: Web immersion.
Washington, D.C.-based Foreign Policy has gone from sticking its toe in the Web waters to diving in over the last decade. Launching in 1997, FOREIGNPOLICY.COM had minimal content and was updated all of three to four times a year. But with the arrival of the new millennium, the 110,000-circ magazine knew it was time for a change.
Rather than hiring an outside company to design and maintain the site, Travis Daub, the magazine’s art and production director, led an in-house team so they could solve problems down the road without waiting on a third party. The first step in the process was archiving Foreign Policy’s complete three-decade catalog of articles—less expensive than one might think. “Six years ago, it only cost us $2,000 to create PDF formats for all our articles, but now it’s even less expensive,” says Daub. “By limiting the archives to subscribers only, we were able to double our subscriptions quickly.”
The next step was getting demographic information for marketing, so they added non-subscriber viewer-registration requirement pages to access certain articles, requiring visitors to fill in profession, age, gender, address and e-mail address fields. So far, the practice has resulted in a database of 100,000.
The last step was creating content specifically for the site, rather than just posting articles from the print edition. In the last year, they added an online editor who only works on Web content, creating about 10 articles each month.