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Jesse Bunch, Marketing Services Coordinator for the University of Tennessee Medical Center, led the audience through the transition that his team made as they transformed Frontiers Magazine from a print publication into an interactive, digital storytelling device.

In 2017, Frontiers Magazine was mailed to the homes of over 18,000 alumni and friends of the University of Tennessee Medical Center. Two weeks before the next issue was scheduled to drop, the published decided to move to a digital platform. To keep the publication on time, Bunch and his team had to learn to adapt to this new storytelling channel.

Aside from formatting to a new platform, Bunch and his team had to rebuild their mailing list from scratch. Moving from a physical address mailing list to an email address list is an enormous undertaking. When the first digital mailing was sent, the list had around 7,000 email addresses. While this seems like a huge hit, from 18,000 to 7,000, the open rates of the new, digital Frontiers Magazine proved that it was still reaching a substantial audience. With an open rate of 24% and a click rate of 19% (well above industry average), it is obvious that the audience of Frontiers Magazine was open to the new change.

This new, digital version of Frontiers Magazine started out as a Flipbook. Users could use their mouse to digitally “flip” the page. While this was more interactive than a typical PDF document, Bunch and his team knew that they could do more.

Dean Baker, Graphic Designer for the University of Tennessee Medical Center, described yet another transition that the Marketing Services team made in order to improve Frontiers Magazine. Adobe Digital Publishing Suite allowed Bunch and his team to create an interactive publication for subscribers. They were able to “flow information into and flow information out” of this more dynamic medium.

While this was another giant leap forward a truly interactive platform for Frontiers Magazine, Bunch and Baker were worried about their readership’s ability to digest a 30 to 40-page document. With this in mind, they decided to make another change to engage their audience. By moving to Adobe Spark, the information is broken down into much more manageable, “bite-sized” pieces of information. They were able to present three to four stories at one time, instead of an entire magazine. This made the information more mobile and social-media friendly.

As all of these changes were implemented, the number of subscribers continued to climb. Currently, the Frontiers Magazine subscription list has around 10,000 emails and maintains an open rate of 20% and a click rate of 28%. While the number of subscribers is still not where it was before the transition to digital, Bunch and his team are better able to track how many people are reading and engaging with this publication.

Bunch believes that their process can be applied to anyone looking to make a switch from traditional print to digital platforms. He recommends genuine, visual storytelling to which your audience can relate. He also reminded the audience that we are in an era where “video is king.” If there is a way for you to tell your brand’s story through video, this is a definite way to get more audience engagement.

To view the new Frontiers Magazine for yourself, visit UTMedicalCenter.org/Frontiers

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