So yesterday I got a note in my inbox about Marketing Mondays from the National Alliance of Market Developers and the topic “The Future of Magazines.” And while the future of print is in serious trouble there are many web publications that are doing well. The panel featured:
Alfred Edmond, Jr. – Sr. VP/Editor-in-Chief, BlackEnterprise.com
Raymond O’Neal – General Manager/Executive Producer UptownLife.net
Amy Andrieux – The Source Mag Online
Marcia Cole – Publisher, AMBERmag.com
And while I was hoping to really be enlightened by some new thoughts and theories around bring synergy between print and online, the panel quickly demonstrated that MANY publications have long ways to go. Or just really haven’t figured it out and don’t have the right people on their teams. So we are going to go down the list of each brand and take a look at just what they are doing right and doing wrong.
Note to The Source: YOU CAN’T READ YOUR SITE! Lay the fucking content in a text box so that people can read it on a content page.
So to start off The Source mag. Online is looking to bring their 20 years of magazine content and put it Online. Good luck with that! Just cause you build it doesn’t mean that they will instantly come. The main problem with The Source magazine is that they have really lost brand loyalty. With so many sites covering Hip-Hop music Online The Source is not the GO-TO spot for Hip-Hop. And looks like The Source is taking money from the US Military to create a niche social network for the military. Ummmmm…..I guest they have to take the money anywhere they can find it. But Allhiphop.com is the go to source for Hip-Hop. They don’t need a magazine or big hip-hop ego’s to keep them afloat. The Source burned to many writers in the past and has to do A LOT to get back into good graces.
Looking at The Source Online is seriously painful. It’s in a blog format but supporting a magazine and the site is super hard to read. The Source Online just suffers from an identity crisis…it wants to do everything but really doesn’t nothing well. The user experience of the site is horrible and you can’t easily share contest with your friends. The site needs a redesign NOW!
Score: EPIC FAIL! – The Source needs major help. They need a social media plan, a better user experience, more conversations that people can see, and content that is worth while. If your content is your currency then the content on The Source is only worth 10 cents. In fact The Source should pay people to read the content on the site.
First of all I never really heard of Amber magazine. They are a women’s site focusings on fashion and beauty and all that jazz. From clicking around their site Clutch Magazine Online does a much better job with their beauty content then Amber. Taking a closer look Amber magazine doesn’t even have that much traffic coming to the site.
A look at Amber vs Clutch shows Clutch Magazine kicking major ass in this market. And there is something about how the layout of Amber’s design that makes it seriously hard to use. Trying to click through an article is painful and makes me never want to use the site again. Then there is a line at the top of the site for a user name and password but nothing that says register. Instead it says far away from there “Not a member? Sign up for the A-List.” Ok so this bring you to a quick registration page and you get a card which will give you free issue of Uptown magazine. Yawn! Why can’t you just mail me my free issue?
Anyway signing up unlocks NOTHING! No new or exciting features unfold from the site.
Score: EPIC FAIL! – Amber magazine looks like it’s just getting started and they have a long way to go. REDESIGN, A/B Test Your homepage, research your market, hire real web people. Sorry but there is nothing good I can say about Ambermag.com
A .net site is cool I guess if you can’t get the .com. But by habit people often type in .com trying to find what they are looking for Online. But the web is about search so I’ll move on from this point. The UptownLife.net site has a nice design and is pretty user friendly over all. I’m not mad at it but they need more content above the fold of the site.
The video player is ok but no game changer…any site can do that in a few lines of code. There really isn’t that much info on UptownLife.net and I can’t really place it’s online competitor. Sites like BET.com are probably it’s competition but it’s still hard to tell.
The site has a lot more social features then most but still lacks that community that can keep the site sticky and keep things going. I think if they really focus on getting their content together, market the site, and find a real community to discuss the content and contribute then they might have something to talk about.
Score: Passing Grade UptownLife.net has a few good things going on with it and I think if they can find their real voice they could have something. But again there are a lot of blogs out there doing it better.
Well to start off the first thing that happens when I load up Black Enterprise.com is that the feature story has a broken image. That’s just not good and to me unexceptable it’s just really tacky and shows a lack of respect for your brand.
So moving on past that going into the site the content is slightly hard to digest. The font size is a but unreadable and I find the articles to be really really long and not useful.
Black Enterprise really is the one site that could really focus on some serious evergreen content. Content that will pay off for them forever. Content, esp. news content has an expiration date. While some pieces of content can bring in a lot of content when it’s hot in Google…when it’s not it can bring in only a few hits a month. Evergreen content and seasonal content can always pay off and keep your traffic going for years and years. There are certain things people will always search for.
I’d like to see more financial and home buying guides on the site and I want to find them in one to two clicks. Black Enterprise needs to take some design, search, and function notes from Readers Digest. Clear and easy to find content, guides and tutorials, and lots of How-to’s and an easy way to find them quickly.
Score: Needs Lots of Work – Black Enterprise has a great brand but it really needs a serious redesign. They need to A/B test their homepage, and focus more on evergreen content and create content that is easy to find.
Final Note: All of these sites need a Community Manager, an Analytics Manager, and the knowledge to uses those position correctly. ALL of these sites need to look into the mobile space. The web is not about just having a website anymore. Mobile traffic is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. And none of these sites seem to have any mobile strategy in place. Also none of these sites have figured out an international strategy. The world is flat! We here at the GreasyGuide.com love our UK readers and the people in the UK, Russia, and Africa that link to our content. You have to think about how you can take your brand to other places and repurpose that content in other formats. It’s about about distribution and syndication. Hire someone to do that and that can do that well.
We’d like to hear from all the panelist at the event and what they think. Feel free to hit the comments and give us your feedback and response.