How to market your journal without spending a fortune

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Is your journal famous enough? It can be, even on a small marketing budget.

Marketing your journal is vital to its success. Your journal’s fame is key. If people don’t know about your journal, they won’t read, submit or cite it. Journal brands are important and you need to invest in yours, but it needn’t cost the earth. Here are some tips:

First do this

Before anything, work out who you are targeting (should be pretty easy) and set some key performance indicators (KPIs). For open access journals, your primary objective should be to attract the greatest number of quality articles that you can. Even if you don’t charge an article processing charge:

no authors =no papers = no readers = no journal!

Setting KPIs ensures you are on target to reach this goal. KPIs can be unique to your journal, but common ones include:

  • Number of visitors to the guide for authors page (shows interest in submitting)
  • Article downloads
  • Time on the website
  • Number of table of contents e-alert registrants
  • Pre-submission enquiries
  • Click throughs from your emails

You can measure these using various analytical packages. Google Analytics is free and can be set up quite easily with a little technical knowledge.

Google Analytics

Open access marketing

I have heard some talk that marketing open access journals is different. This is true in a certain respect, as you don’t need to worry about subscriptions. However, most journals require a significant amount of author marketing to get them going, regardless of their business model. This type of marketing is no different for open access journals. If you have a successful journal editorially, you will have a successful journal.

Mobilise your team

The best and most cost-effective way to promote your journal is through your editorial boards. They are engaged with your journal and can expand reach easily through their networks and conference attendance. Think of your board as the personification of your journal. Make sure they are contacted frequently and feel part of the team (keep them interested). Make it easy for your board to work for you, give them packs, powerpoint slides, fliers and journal-branded business cards. Don’t overwhelm them though. Too much, too fast and they won’t do it — nurture that relationship.

Think of your board as the personification of your journal.

#Tweet tweet

I’m sure you have a journal profile on Twitter. If not, quickly, go now and set one up at www.twitter.com. We can wait.

OK, back now? Good, let’s continue…

Twitter profiles cost nothing and let you grow a decent amount of followers pretty quickly. The best journal profiles are managed by someone with credibility in and knowledge of the field (e.g. an editor). It’s good to give your Twitter feed at least a bit of personality and to actively engage with other users. If you do you will grow your following more quickly and it won’t look like your feed is run by a robot.

Don’t be afraid to tweet content from other competitor’s journals. This helps build your feed as a resource for the community and, in turn, increases the visibility of your journal. Your Twitter feed is a good conduit to your community, showing what you are doing and where you are heading.

Retweet interesting content and participate in conversations. You can find relevant topics as people hashtag (#) them. Search under the relevant hashtag and then tag your content similarly to participate.

Hashtags are also good for conferences as they bring together conversations around talks. By joining the conversation or reporting what has been said, you can gain good visibility and show that you are an interested and authoritative source of information in the field.

Hashtags are also good for conferences as they bring together conversations around talks.

Lastly on Twitter, you can also buy promoted tweets, which will show up in feeds that match your selection criteria. These aren’t that costly and do allow you to target feeds of influencers, competitors etc. In my experience they don’t work as well as Facebook advertising and the interface for placing them is not great, but try it as it can be done on a small budget.

Don’t discount Facebook!

Many people think that Facebook is a great place for photos of, say, little Scotty’s first steps, but it’s not a place for research. It’s true that Facebook is not used for research in the ways that ResearchGate or even LinkedIn are. However, researchers obviously have ‘real’ lives away from the lab and (surprise, surprise), like everyone else, they use Facebook. If done right, Facebook can be a good vehicle for reaching your audience.

Facebook really comes into its own as a highly targeted advertising platform.

A word of caution with Facebook. Much has been said about Facebook engaging customers with your brand and starting conversations. Forget this, even Facebook knows this doesn’t work for brands (don’t believe me see this on the Pepsi Refresh Project). Yes, set up a product page (it’s free) as you will have content that will get some traffic, but Facebook really comes into its own as a highly targeted advertising platform. It’s reach is vast and you can drill down to target researchers by location, subject area etc. For about £50 you can generate some great click throughs to your site. If you do have some budget, give it a go. Make sure you test different types of ads — here’s a good article as to what makes a good Facebook ad.

Facebook is good, but you do need to spend.

Reports of email’s death have been greatly exaggerated

I keep reading that email is dead, but we all know it is not! Yes, there are numerous other tools for communicating, but email is platform neutral and is still used by mostly everyone. Embrace it, it is a key way to contact your audience.

If you haven’t already, start to build a mailing list for your journal. You need to offer registrants something to sign up to and the easiest thing is a journal table of contents (ToC) e-alert.

Please do check data protection laws before setting up an email list.

You will need a way to collect the emails and a way to send out an alert. This is easy to do through programmes such as MailChimp, which is also free for the basic package. People still like to get content delivered this way to browse what’s coming up and it can help your article traffic. Make signing up as easy as possible by having a link on each article page, so that people don’t have to just chance upon it.

Please do check data protection laws before setting up an email list. Collect only the information you really need and ensure you tell people why people are signing up and what you are going to do with their data. If people sign up for a ToC alert, unless you have asked them specifically, that’s all they should get. I’m not going to go into data protection laws here as they vary from region to region, but there are fines if you don’t adhere to them. Below are some useful links. Please respect people’s data.

CAN-SPAM
UK Data Protection Act
Canadian Data Protection
European General Data Protection Regulation

Start a blog

If you think I’m writing this for my health, then you are sadly mistaken. Regardless of how useful you find it (which I hope is very useful!), I’m writing this for one reason and one reason only, to promote Veruscript. If you learn a little along the way then that is great. However, I am writing to primarily inform you that Veruscript offers a very cost-effective, risk-free way to launch journals. By telling you about marketing techniques that will help build your journal, I’m hoping I will inspire you to launch a journal and consider our service as option for that new journal (or think about transferring an existing journal to us).

This blog also helps us improve our visibility and page ranking on Google. Marketing is a hot topic for journals and when people search for this topic now, we will stand a better chance of showing up.

You should do the same. Start a blog, fill it with relevant information that you think will be useful to your audience. This will increase your authority on your subject area and help your search engine optimisation (SEO). If you are going to do this though, please remember to promote your journal somewhere in each post. There is no point otherwise.

Speaking of SEO

Your SEO is important, make sure all the metatags are appropriate and look to work with other friendly organisations/partners to offer mutual links to and from your sites. In Google’s eyes this improves the trust and relevance of your site and helps you move up their list. Extra direct traffic may also come from the sites that link to you. Obviously make sure any mutual links are relevant and only use trusted sites or you will annoy your users and could damage your reputation.

I found you on Wikipedia…

Having an up-to-date Wikipedia page has it’s uses. Although links from there won’t increase your SEO status (as they are no-follow links), Wikipedia pages on a topic or product rank highly in Google. Definitely set a page up and make sure it is up-to-date. Remember to check it regularly to ensure that no one has put anything untrue up. Also, make sure you clearly identify your association with the journal when editing your page.

And if you are Mr/Mrs/Miss Money Bags…

Lastly, if you have some budget, Google Adwords is a pretty cost-effective way to promote content. The targeting is great and you can set the budgets really tightly — you also only pay per click, so can control your spend. Your ads hit people at the point when they are most interested, so it is a good way to attract them to your journal.

Google Adwords

Now you’ve read the above, go away and test everything!

I hope you have found this post useful. Digital marketing makes testing things a lot easier, so if you take one thing away from this post, make sure it is this: test everything, What works best for me, might not work so well for you, so don’t take my word for what’s best. Look into A/B testing (different versions of a marketing piece going to the same audience) and try out different types of copy — headlines, long vs short copy etc. See which version wins and then test against that. It’s not much extra hassle and helps improve your marketing. Here are some useful links on testing:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A/B_testing
https://blog.kissmetrics.com/ab-testing-introduction/

In Summary

That’s my quick run through on the marketing of journals. These techniques have worked for me, but please don’t take my work for it and make sure you test, testtest!

Comments are welcome. I would love to hear the results of some of your tests, so I can steal your ideas for Veruscript (kidding, sort of!?).

Best of luck with your journal and remember (as I’m on their payroll) that Veruscript helps you to launch and run your own journals at a fraction of the cost of other publishers. In fact the best way to try out my tips is by launching a journal with us. Don’t worry — there is no risk financially, as we don’t invoice until we publish an article, meaning you get the money in the bank from article processing charges before you pay us.

Find out how you can publish your own journal for just £300 per article.


How to market your journal without spending a fortune was originally published in Veruscript News on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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