Creating exceptional content is nothing new for BMW.
For nearly 20 years the automaker has been wowing audiences with its BMW Magazine; a lush, beautiful
publication that perfectly showcases the luxury brand’s appeal.
While the high quality of this content has stayed consistent
over time, the format has seen major changes. BMW Magazine has boldly embraced digital storytelling; now an exceptional website and mobile
app pair with the print version.
How did BMW approach this transition? What role does digital
content play for the company? Which trends is the brand watching closely?
Recently we sat down with Dr. Nancy Storp, Head of International Sales Literature, Dialogue Marketing,
Content Management, BMW Group and Sabine Stautner, BMW Project Manager, BMW Magazine, to find
Check out the Q&A below:
a very broad level, what role does digital content play for BMW? What are the
A: We very much believe in content marketing in
Depending on the target group, we develop
the marketing stories that will connect best – that’s done independently of
channel; it could be digital or offline; it could be graphics or pictures or
even film. Again, it depends on the target group, some will respond better to
offline means whereas others may match to a channel such as social media.
Magazine is exceptional content; what’s the story behind it?
How did come about and what are the goals for it?
A: We started the BMW Magazine almost 20 years ago, in 1989, and since then it has been one of our
most important tools for inspiring loyalty.
We don’t want it to feel like marketing
material; that’s why we use journalists and not marketing agencies for the
pieces. For us it is a journalistic tool, so you’ll find advertising in it that
isn’t just all from BMW. We want the magazine to be credible.
In the magazine we do talk about BMW products,
of course, but we also talk about the whole BMW brand world. It’s the only
medium in which we can do that. It’s where we can talk about topics related to
what our audiences are interested in, or our corporate social responsibility
efforts, etcetera. It’s a very open communication tool regarding the content;
it allows us to talk about many different things.
The design of both the web content and print content is beautiful. How do you
think about the aesthetic?
A: We always try to be state-of-the-art, so we try to
develop continuously with the consumer in mind. Especially in the online
version, we want to always be thinking about how people will read the magazine.
That’s how we brief our journalists and photographers; we tell them to always
be at the edge.
How do you reach your intended audiences? How do you make sure that the pieces
are read and you’re actually connecting with the people you want to?
A: With the printed version of the magazine we have
a good database; we send it out to our existing customers. We also market the
print version via collaborations with airlines or rental car companies, so
you’ll find the BMW Magazine onboard
or in the cars. We also have it appear in places where people have some time to focus on our
content, like hotel lobbies, and we make it simple for people to
fill out a form if they want to receive the magazine themselves.
For the digital version, we use social media
– Facebook, Instagram, you name it – and also have ways of promoting downloads
of the app
do you measure the success of those efforts?
A: For something like the app we’ll look at the number
of downloads. With the online content we do other measurement too. For example,
this fall we’re tracking new articles in a few countries to see if that content
attracts new people.
For social media, it depends on the network.
So on Facebook we’ll track the number of likes on a regular basis.
you have a favorite piece of BMW content? Either magazine or elsewhere?
A: The best pieces are those that make the audience want
to be part of this branded world. So, for example, we did a very nice video as part of
our Next 100 Years project that explores BMW in South Africa.
The video looks at a BMW
plant and how it helps the families of the people who work there. It’s a story
that isn’t about a particular product, but if you are a viewer it brings you there
and makes you want to learn more.
From a visual point of view, we recently had
a special on the 7 Series,
which has beautiful pictures. It has some of the best photos since an I8 series
we did in 2014 in Dubai.
Finally, are there any content trends that you’re watching closely right now?
Anything you’re spending a lot of time thinking about?
A: We are trying to focus more and more on developing
the right content first and then thinking about the channel afterwards. So,
rather than thinking about print and digital separately, we say: “Let’s see
what content we can create, and then we’ll think about which channels it can be
Also, we are thinking a lot about
personalizing content. How do you shape the individual experience to the
respective profile of the user? This is exciting for us because it means we can
connect each reader with what he is interested in most and deliver exactly the
content that is relevant.