4 marketing basics to consider when successfully launching a new journal

Launching a new journal is an exciting yet hectic time for all involved. Added to this is the pressure of creating an effective, agile and measured marketing plan to ensure the journal launch is a success.

When you’re not an experienced marketer, this can sound daunting. That's where we come in to help. A marketing plan doesn’t have to be pages and pages of text, it can be as brief and basic as you want it to be - but what it needs to be, is strategic.


In this blog, we share our advice for how you, a publisher/society/academic institution, can maximize the launch of a new journal.


Check out our recent masterclass on 'Journal Marketing - Covering The Basics' where we talk further about strategy, marketing planning, journal lifecycle, stakeholders, hints and tips and next steps. Or simply get in touch with us for bespoke training for editorial and marketing colleagues - team@internationalbunch.com.



Why do I need to think about marketing when launching a journal?

There are many definitions of marketing, but HubSpot sum it up nicely – ‘marketing is the process of getting people interested in your company’s product or service’. So for your new journal, its success depends on its visibility, reach and position in your specific subject area. Having a carefully considered agile marketing approach is a smart way to help you achieve your journal goals. Ultimately, you can:

  • improve the journal's impact in your subject niche

  • disseminate key messages with your audience aligned to your strategy

  • improve the visibility of your journal and it’s articles

  • encourage conversations around your journal/articles/topics

1. Be clear on your strategy

Before doing anything, it’s important you define your strategy and have clear objectives where you want the journal to be in a specific time period e.g. one year, three-five year vision etc. Whether it’s to maximize awareness or gain high-quality submissions, you can then use these overarching goals to formulate your journal's objectives. There aren't enough hours in the day so you need to prioritize say your top three objectives for that year you are planning. What is most important - reach, impact, discoverability, quality or accessibility? Maybe a mixture of a few.


Your objectives should be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely – to ensure you can track the effectiveness of your marketing and adapt and change to the current landscape. What does this even mean?


I'll give you a mix of examples for a journal launch and beyond - you need them to be specific enough with a deadline and a way that you can measure them:

  • Launch xx [journal] on 1st March 2021 to the global chemistry research community - the journal needs to launch by a certain date to meet the objective and to a specific community - that is how it is measured as a success

  • Reach an audience of over one million across social media through the 2021 launch campaign on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn - here we have given the specific campaign, social channels and our key performance indicator (KPI) one million

  • Launch [journal] email sent out 1st March 2021 to existing institution relevant contacts to have a unique click to open rate above industry average at 15% and a call to action to submit - this is specific to an email campaign and rather than focusing on click-through rate, this focuses on those that are engaged and opened the email that have then actually then gone on to click through

  • XX submissions to [the journal] in March 2021 - we are giving a KPI here and by the launch month of the journal

  • Increase submissions from the US by 10% in 2021 - this one relates to regional growth and will have specific objectives about how to achieve - this could be a high-level objective that filters down through marketing, sales and editorial to have their own department-level objectives to support the journal

  • Publish 20% more articles in [journal] in 2021 than 2020 - this is using a previous year as a benchmark and using growth as a key strategy

Whether you are a small society or a large global publisher, you can only market your journal effectively with the resources you have available. Keep that in mind so what you are setting out to do is achievable and realistic.


2. Identify your key messaging points and who your audience is

Thinking about the following points will guide your messaging and help you target your specific audience:

  • Identify what the journal’s scope is and which niche it will resonate most with

  • What is the most important pain point or challenge your journal is addressing?

  • Think about all the stakeholders - not just the researchers, authors and readers - but the advocates - librarians, funders, internal staff and colleagues, and finally the public who are more engaged in research than ever before

  • Align your key messaging with your defined strategy to ensure you achieve what you set out to do, and don't get sidetracked - keep focused

  • Tell the story of your journal - engage, inspire and motivate your community to get involved

  • Communicate to a global audience - think about simple clear communications

  • Help your journal stand out from the crowd and be UNforgettable

  • Identify the best tools/platforms to effectively reach your target audience

When creating your copy, it’s important you focus on the ‘why’ – why are you doing what you are doing? For more advice on copywriting including what writing formulas you can use to create an emotional connection with your audience, visit our previous blog post, explore our storytelling masterclass or get in touch for bespoke training at team@internationalbunch.com.



3. Select your marketing mix

Now it’s time to select your marketing activities. Remember, the magic ingredient of marketing is tailoring campaigns to suit your audience so copying what you’ve done previously for another journal might not work. Consider how you can best reach them – what social channels do they use? Do they attend any events? We recommend justifying why you want to use each tactic in relation to your audience(s) and goal(s) to keep you on track. Here are a select few to think about:

  • Discoverability – being search friendly is important in today’s digital world so make sure the journal homepage and articles contain up-to-date information and is search engine optimized. For example, Wiley states that more than 50% of traffic to Wiley’s Online Library comes from online searches so getting this right can make a massive difference to your impact. Also, think about where is your journal content indexed and which directories is your journal on - how accessible is your content? Is your content aggregated?

  • Printed collateral – traditional marketing tactics like printed promotional materials such as posters, business cards and flyers can be key to raising the visibility of your journal at events and conferences, but they can be hard to measure the effectiveness of. Many publishers are now looking to reduce their costs and environmental impact by hugely cutting back what they print

  • Online media – digital marketing is becoming increasingly important and can result in better response times, improved customer interaction and provide clearly measurable results. Having journal-specific social media accounts can be an effective way of disseminating key messages and published content - or having subject level social accounts so you can share the responsibility of populating social channels with colleagues. Don’t forget to include links to the journal homepage or individual articles within your posts to make it easy for your audience to access. Once you decide on a social media channel, you need to be committed to it and have a strategy in place. Social advertising gives you greater flexibility and more targetted approaches and may be worth considering. We've got a series of hints and tips for YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit and WeChat for you to check out - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzZ3BrpL2eGso7yhy-x-Aiq6Th6mQ5Vny

  • Promotions – dependent on your strategy, you could be looking to have exciting and sought after promotional items at events, encourage opt-ins to TOC alerts and journal newsletters through competitions, and have giveaways - just be mindful of the legalities around

  • Email campaign – sending out a series of emails to your existing audience is an easy way to spread the message of your new journal amongst your list of already relevant and engaged contacts. Do not send out an email to everyone in your list - you'll end up spamming people not interested, increase the likelihood of opt-outs and have poor engagement metrics. Carefully consider who really wants to know, and how engaged have they been in emails over the last year as a couple of examples

  • Digital banners – whether you have budget available for digital advertising like MPU banners or are just creating social banners, these can be an effective way to target your audience. The content of the banner needs to clearly inform the end-user and contain a specific call-to-action, e.g. submit to the journal. It’s important to select a site that is both relevant to your subject and is a place your target audience visit regularly. Of course, banners don't have to be just for websites and social channels but can be used as email signatures too. Animate your banners, include videos and GIFs rather than just static text for better engagement. We found this handy Google doc listing up-to-date social media image specifications for a number of social channels - https://www.internationalbunch.com/social-media-specifications

  • Email signatures – including links to your social media profiles and journal homepage on your email signature is an easy win to help widen your reach, as well as create an email signature banner - though be aware that images in emails like in signatures can cause your email to be flagged to sensitive spam filters

  • Press release – create a press release to alert the media of the launch. Make sure the story will be of interest to the wider public. Check out Class PR for guidance on how to write a press release

There are lots of other exciting activities you can do beyond launch - all, of course, dependent on your journal strategy and position in the lifecycle - but you need to carefully consider and be aware of legislation like GDPR. Think about keeping the conversation open with surveys, and help the community with funding and grants to attend events.

4. Track results and return on investment (ROI)

We can’t emphasize how important it is to measure the results of your activity. You need to stop doing what isn't working and carry on doing what is. Be brave, and agile with your approach - the landscape will change over time - you only have to have a global pandemic to see that! Measuring what you do will inform and guide your strategy going forward.


Discover our agile marketing masterclass to explore how you can adapt to your landscape:



Receive specialist help

If you would like more expert help or advice with journal marketing, please do get in touch with us at team@internationalbunch.com. We’d love the opportunity to share our knowledge with you.

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