Digital magazines are a bit of a strange beast.
The term itself conveys the core issue: there’s a tension between the established medium of magazines and the quickly changing world of digital.
Yet, when done well, a digital magazine can be a truly unique thing that blends the depth of long-form pieces with the engaging tools of modern storytelling.
An excellent example of this is HP Matter, an offering from the technology and services company that tackles big ideas with clear intelligence and lush presentation. The range of topics covered by the well-versed experts is broad – from drones to cyber criminals – and the formats used vary impressively, from long-form text articles to short infographics and videos.
Recently we chatted with Paula Berg, Digital Media Manager at HP, to learn why the company launched the online magazine last year, how it built an audience for the publication, and what other brands can learn from the experience.
Check it out:
Q: Can you share the background of HP Matter? How did it start?
A: HP Matter launched in June of 2014. We describe it as a digital magazine where some of the brightest minds in business share their perspective on our technology-driven world.
The reason behind developing it is that technology has become a driving force in business strategies more than ever been before. We’re trying to illustrate what is possible with technology right now in business.
Q: Where does the content come from?
A: The content is a mix right now, primarily high-quality media partners such as the Fast Company, Quartz, The Atlantic, and The New York Times, as well as few staff members.
Q: What are the goals?
A: We’re trying to showcase ideas that inspire; that’s what drives us. We’re trying primarily
to inspire business leaders to try and get them excited about the technology that can drive their businesses forward.
Of course, we also want to demonstrate that HP should be part of that conversation. People often think of printers or PCs when they think of HP, but we also have an important presence in areas like infrastructure, security, Big Data, and mobility.
Q: How do you get the content in front of the audiences you’re targeting?
A: We have a combination paid/unpaid distribution model. HP has a strong presence on social channels, as well as online, so we use those, as well a pretty robust advertising program.
I think one of the things that makes us unique is how we approach paid. We use half of our budget and apply it to bread-and-butter tactics, but with the rest we have a mandate to take chances; to find fresh ways to reach the people we want to.
Q: The video series by Alison Klayman (Welcome to the Idea Economy) which features companies disrupting a range of industries, is excellent. How’d it come about?
A: It’s never just one moment in time that these things happen. We’d kicked around the idea of a documentary for a while, we were thinking maybe a 15- or 30-minute piece, but we then took a step back and started thinking about our content, and thinking about the idea of technology making things possible.
Out of that came the idea of featuring businesses sharing what their core idea was, and how technology brought that idea to life. We reached out to Alison, and it all came together.
It’s a nice teaser for what our new company – Hewlett-Packard Enterprise – is going to be about; we have these tools to bring your ideas to life.
That series has around 2 million views right now in its various locations, so we’re happy with its performance. The coolest part, though, is that these videos are the highest converting content on our site; if people watch them they’re far more likely to register to receive more content.
Q: Do you have a favorite piece of content from HP Matter?
A: Yes, it’s called Content Barons, Smart Dust & SkyNet: 6 Telecommunications Disruptions for 2020.
There are a few reasons why I love it: 1) It’s written by one of our employees, Christopher Surdak, who’s a Big Data expert and futurist; 2) It breaks every rule of content marketing, yet it’s one of our best performing pieces. It’s not “scannable” or “snackable” – it’s a 3,000 word-long, hulking piece of content; and 3) The image at the top of the page, which is basically a cloud of smoke, sparks more emails than almost any other piece of content on our site.
The whole HP Matter breaks a lot of rules from a few years ago – about things needing to be short or light or whatever – it shows you can experiment and still succeed.
Q: Any advice for brands looking to develop their own digital magazine?
A: I have three things that have been on my mind a lot since we launched last year:
1) Have a crystal-clear view of what your goals are. It’s really easy to lose sight of them. What are you trying to do? Are you trying to get a lead, drive traffic, drive conversion? Those are different things.
2) A little bit of paid can really go a long way. Obviously organic is essential, but to get a program off the ground you can see excellent results with a spend, even if you have a tiny budget.
3)Finally, and I’m still processing this myself: know your weaknesses. Each company has different internal issues and different hurdles you have to work around. Build a program that’s realistic about what you can accomplish well.