CIM/e-Marketing Award-Assignment #1: Analysis of Magicalia's e-Marketing Strategies


Published on

This report presents a case study on Magicalia Publishing Group e-Marketing strategies. Their key success factor was Localization and Cross-Selling.

As part of the Chartered Institute of Marketing programs, Naja Faysal was enrolled in the Professional Development Award in e-Marketing via Cambridge Marketing College

Published in: Education, Business, Technology
1 Comment
No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

CIM/e-Marketing Award-Assignment #1: Analysis of Magicalia's e-Marketing Strategies

  1. 1. ANALYSIS OF MAGICALIA’S E-MARKETING STRATEGIES By: Naja Faysal CIM/ Professional Development Award in E-marketing Cambridge Marketing College ………………………… Communication Executive Leo Burnett – Riyadh, KSA ………………………… Bachelor Degree in Communication Arts – Advertising and Marketing Notre Dame University – Lebanon Cambridge Marketing College E-marketing Award – Assignment 1 Written in Saudi Arabia on the 24th of January, 2009
  2. 2. TABLE OF CONTENTS I. Abstract / Executive Summary II. Introduction 1. Background 2. Aims 3. Premises 4. Scope 5. Limitations 6. Benefits III. Discussion / Body 1. Who is magicalia’s target segment? 2. What are their values? 3. What is their lifecycle? 4. Where do we reach them? 5. Target the right segment 6. Search engine optimization 7. Partnerships / affiliates 8. E-mail marketing 9. Online PR 10. Minimize acquisition cost 11. Optimize service quality 12. Business Solutions 13. Use the Right Channel 14. Understand individual needs 15. Relevant offers for continued usage of online services IV. Conclusions 1. Key points 2. Main findings V. Bibliography
  3. 3. ABSTRACT/EXECUTIVE SUMMARY is a UK online publishing group founded in 1999 to meet the needs of a variety of leisure sectors. Magicalia, unlike other publishers, was launched as an online publishing and went to print afterwards to meet the niche segments. So, It was important to study magicalia’s business to have an understanding of the changes undertaking the business models of our century, how the growth of the internet adoption is fueling these types of businesses. It is as well important to present the risk associated with companies who fail to adapt to the internet era. Knowing the limitations and scope of this report, where most of the info was gathered on the internet, it presented a valuable analysis of how magicalia were able to attract, retain and communicate to its audience. It showed how Magicalia was able to develop an architecture which could support multiple specialist community sites, to differentiate its offering by providing a high level of localisation and personalisation and to build a central member profile database underpinning its sites. It also showed how magicalia’s customer centric approach and its focus on interactivity and relationship building lead to organically grow its subscriber base without even the need of systematic marketing campaigns. Magicalia listened to its customers and caters their needs profitably. It talked to the niches that were ignored or repelled. It delivered content that would appeal to them, interacted with them, created events they would attend and affiliated itself with brands they adore. Not only this, but also it didn’t stop acquiring more magazine and community website titles which expanded its territory and combined them with an integrated fission. The front end (design, look and feel, user interface etc.) and back end (databases, applications etc.) were developed in parallel and by teams working in close collaboration. This same architecture allowed magicalia to develop an e-commerce platform for other retail clients by which it widen its internet offerings and developed cross selling between the community websites recommending products linked to the retails website to buy it.
  4. 4. INTRODUCTION Background is a UK–based online publishing group, established in 1999 to meet the needs of a variety of leisure sectors. As described on magicalia’s home page (, the company is building a cross-media publishing group that owns a portfolio of market-leading magazines and online communities in special interest markets, as well as publishing community websites for external magazine publishing clients. Magicalia also operates an e-commerce platform for specialist retail clients that integrates fully with Magicalia's published websites. Magicalia defines its approach to publishing as bringing together content, community and commerce. The high quality editorial, professional reviews, news and advice teamed with a community of readers creates sites with a wealth of content through forums, photo galleries, moderated event discussions, and structured equipment reviews. The retailer partners integrate their stocklists within magicalia’s sites and provide buying opportunities in a deeply integrated fashion. Moreover, magicalia is shortlisted as the best online publisher in the UK according to the UK Association of Online Publishers (AOP). The AOP is an industry body representing digital publishing companies that create original, branded, quality content. AOP champions the interests of approximately 160 publishing companies from diverse backgrounds including newspaper and magazine publishing, TV and radio broadcasting and pure online media. With its affiliation with the AOP, magicalia earned the credibility needed to establish trust among its audience, clients and shareholders. Aims This report aims to present an analysis of the magicalia business model and focus on the company’s activities to achieve success online. How the company generates revenues? How it communicate to its current and potential customers? How it attract potential customers? And how it retains them? This analysis will allow us to understand how
  5. 5. theory can be applied in practice and it will give the readers a picture of how to use the internet to grow business. Premises In order to study magicalia’s business, first let’s have a look on the UK publishing industry. The department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) – publishing sector stated that there are currently 164,000 people working in the UK publishing industry and the UK publishing industry is considered the second largest in Europe. Moreover, there are 8,000 publishing companies operating within the UK (BERR), the majority are located in London and South East England. Online publishing is getting into the picture more and more by the increasing rate of internet adoption year after year. ClickZ estimates that internet active users in the UK might reach 24.36 million in 2010 according to the CIA’s World Factbook, where current facts presented on the National Statistics website ( showed that 65% (16 million) of households in the UK had internet access by the end of 2008. Households with access to the Internet, GB
  6. 6. Scope This report includes quantitative and qualitative data related to the UK publishing industry and to e-business in general. The report covers the magicalia publishing group and its activities to attract, retain and communicate to existing and potential customers. Much of the information presented in this report came from search engines results over the internet on variety of topics found needed to support the assumptions raised. In addition, some information was built from interviews, previous studies and reports available on the internet. Key terms have been identified; many of those and other knowledge came from studying the books of Cambridge Marketing College / CIM E- marketing Award and their related resources. Limitations This report is limited to the amount of information gathered at the period from January 20 till February 15, 2009. It is limited as well to the resources allocated for research the topics of this report, where only free websites and information hubs were used. Benefits This report is intended to present a level of understanding of e-business and e-marketing applied in real situations. It gives the reader useful information on how to strategically plan and structure the e-marketing activities in a highly competitive market.
  7. 7. DISCUSSION / BODY What do the Guardian, the BBC, Conde Nast, the Scotsman and Magicalia have in common? According to the Association of Online Publishers, they are the best online publishers in the UK. (6/9/2005). Let’s have a look of how magicalia success was created… Who is magicalia’s target segment? Magicalia positioned itself to be leading the Parenting, Cycling, Golf, Walking, Coarse fishing and Home entertainment through a variety of magazines, media and community sites. This is a broad market to cover because it targets a big segment of the population in the UK and Europe, however we will address how magicalia was able to reach the right customer at the right time with the right message through the right channel. What are their values? Magicalia’s target segments are the sports enthusiasts; the activists and outdoor exercisers. In addition to young parents who are looking for guidance and support. Basically, the values that magicalia’s target share in common is keeping the healthy and active lifestyle pumping up. They are active contributors; they like to share their opinions and thoughts. What is their lifecycle? Magicalia is talking to people who are passionate about their lifestyle and are seeking information about what they like to do or learn. They are enthusiastic and driven by their passion and not by stimulatory promotion and money savings. So they tend to be more loyal than other market segments. Where do we reach them? Magicalia’s target are traditionally reached through printed magazines, however and after the internet boom, Magicalia found that this is an opportunity to create a new model, set new rules and develop virtual source of information online. They have seen the internet adoption rising, so they started the business online not like other publishers who are now have to face the internet problem. In addition, Magicalia uses a systematic marketing drive that combines online and offline marketing. It promotes in niche magazines, sponsors events and works on some innovative on-line promotions. It also
  8. 8. engages all the thousands of clubs and shops in each sport, and provides them with marketing material, to work as catalysts for growing the community amongst their existing membership/customer base. Target the right segment In an interview with Ibiz on 19/4/2001, Magicalia’s CEO Adam Laird explained that in a marketing driven environment like the UK, it is important to choose the right customer. “We are pedantic about ensuring that our registered users are indeed enthusiasts of the sports we cover, rather than people who have signed up for some prize or to gain benefit points in a loyalty scheme” he said. Search engine optimization As a cross media, magicalia had to depend on the internet to ensure reach, coverage and traffic. Search engine optimization is not even an option. Magicalia has developed an approach to search engines that gave it lots of advantages. However, there are some weaknesses in some areas. If you search for online publishers in the UK for example, Google displays magicalia in the the 2nd page (result number 13), Yahoo displays in the 4th page (number 37), where Msn displays it in the first page (result number 1). On the other side, if we monitor the search engine optimization of magicalia’s owned websites such as using “cycling uk” as a key word, Google displays the website as its first result, Yahoo doesn’t display any result in the first pages, where msn displays it as the first result. is displayed as the 5th result on Msn when using “fishing UK” as a key word, where Yahoo and Google don’t display any results for the website in their first pages. appears as the 6th result on msn when using “baby parenting UK” as a key word, where Yahoo and Google don’t display the site on their first pages. Needless to say that the above observations of magicalia’s search engine performance is very limited, where only 3 search engines were observed, and only one key word was used for each website we are trying to search for. Thus, we cannot draw scientific conclusions based on the data gathered; however it gave us a small indication of where magicalia stands. It as well tells us that more work should be done to ensure magicalia’s websites presence is at the top results in the most used search engines in the UK.
  9. 9. Partnerships / affiliates Magicalia is always concentrating on building bridges between its own systems and those of its retail partners, thereby extending its inter-relational architecture externally. By first, creating a collection of community websites, magazines, and special-interest websites that functions in an integrated manner, and second through acquiring other websites and magazines from other publishers and third, through developing an e-commerce platform for retail clients. These clients are further used as affiliate partners. The whole is genuinely an organic system. Everything relates to everything else in one way or another. This includes the business-to-business applications that Magicalia runs, so, for example, an advertising client might also be a shop that sells particular brands which have associated products that have associated user reviews that have associated user profiles that have associated nearest shops and so on. As it is starting to build these XML gateways with partners, Magicalia is defining its content and data structures more rigorously to facilitate communication and integration. Magicalia also continues to stitch together various nodes within its own architecture allowing new ways of serving and inter-relating content. This is driven primarily by users’ feedback and requests. E-mail marketing In our research for email marketing campaigns for magicalia, we didn’t find tangible information on this topic, however we have concluded that email marketing is part of the systematic marketing campaigns Adam Laird (CEO of Magicalia) was talking about in his interview with Ibiz mentioned above. Throughout the 10 years operation, magicalia has mastered online marketing. Email marketing is definitely part of this. In addition, websites that belongs to magicalia have their own marketing activities and communications. Using email is vital for these sites for many reasons, one is to attract their market segment to visit the websites and two is to communicate targeted offers and information update to keep readers and subscribers coming back. Of course emails are used as well to answer quires from curious visitors. We tried to contact magicalia corporate office using email and waited to
  10. 10. check how fast they will reply. Eventually, magicalia’s representative replied in 4 days with useful information and links to other pages that can answer what we might need to know. Online PR Magicalia online activities are not only around building and maintaining quality sites for a variety of customer segments, but also it mastered the digital PR to create the hype around its business. Many websites regularly publish magicalia’s news and events. The Association of Online Publishers for example presented case studies about magicalia, where the Telegraph UK portal,,, PRLog and many others, publish press releases and news feeds covering magicalia’s news and activities. In addition, magicalia has formed company profiles on international network sites like linked Minimize acquisition cost Since its launch in 1999, Magicalia were very careful in spending on marketing and pushing really hard since they were raising capital for their operation. Magicalia’s customer acquisition cost was low right from the beginning; it depended on the content, word of mouth and website usability to drive traffic. Now, and after they have generated million of pounds and acquired millions of customers, Magicalia is using systematic marketing campaigns to stimulate sales and traffic and acquiring more customers and users. Having begun as a publisher of websites for cycling and golfing nuts, it has now bought 17 titles discarded by larger groups like IPC and Future and expanded from hobbies to babies. However, and although this dramatic rise in the number of titles, magicalia droped significantly the advertising spend to keep its cost low. This came from the faith of the founders that when you have quality product, people will adopt it organically especially on the internet. Optimize service quality Magicalia publishes and owns a portfolio of magazines and online communities in special interest markets. The company’s publishing areas comprise lifestyle, cycling, outdoors, hobbies, and motorcycling. It publishes various magazines in the hobby and leisure interest sector, as well as crates content through forums, photo galleries, event discussions, and equipment... The company also publishes community Web sites for
  11. 11. external magazine publishing clients, as well as operates an e-commerce platform for retail clients, which integrates with Magicalia's published Web sites. It serves blue chip magazine publishers, as well as provides services for independent publishers, producing sites, and business to business sites. The platform is a flexible and sophisticated content management system with a strong focus on community features. Throughout the years, magicalia was able to bring together a collection of magazines, community websites, and special interest media sites and others. This combination created a rich content that attracted millions of subscribers, who were able to create the news themselves by posting events incidents, their opinion and thoughts about some topics and uploading photos which then were printed in their relative magazines. The biking magazine for example doesn't have enough journalists to cover the 40 or so race meetings around the UK each weekend. If a dramatic crash happens, readers can post photos and first-hand accounts on the biking site, which then find their way into print. Of the hundreds of birth stories mothers swap at, the best are retold in the magazines. Unlike other publishers who were throwing dozens of money at the internet problem, hiring in the expertise to launch sites or buying them whole, Magicalia is one of the few coming into print from the other side. The first language of its founders, cycling enthusiast Jeremy Tapp and golf fanatic Adam Laird, is the internet. Their talk is peppered with references to pay per clicks and visitor numbers. So they were able to generate subscription for their magazine through reviews on their special interests websites. The amateur reviews are free, but those wanting to read professional verdicts are asked to subscribe to the magazine. In addition, Magicalia is interested in activities which involve buying lots of kit, anything from fish hooks to prams. Its websites contain a mixture of professional reviews and many dozens more user reviews, alongside ads for the products both new and second hand. account holders will recognize the format. Hosting thousands of reviews also means that Magicalia is less dependent on traditional advertising income. A quarter of the group's online money comes from customers who read a review and then click through to the retailer's site to buy the product. The company receives between 5 and 10p of the sale price for any fruitful leads. With the best bicycles these days costing over £1,000, these are relationships worth having. To ensure that as much shopping as possible happens, Magicalia builds the websites for its niche retailers. Over 50 have gone live to date.
  12. 12. But the really clever stuff involves making sure every review is matched with a product for sale. Retailers send through regularly updated electronic catalogues, which they already produce in order to advertise with larger beasts like Google. Magicalia then uses a software programme to scan its thousands of reviews for matches, and creates a link so that readers can click straight through from the review to the shop. To cover all the angles, retailers now host Magicalia reviews on their own sites. Shoppers wanting to check out a product can do so without having to surf any further, and Magicalia gets paid for prompting a sale "No one else is getting that deep into the fabric of the web," claims Jeremy Tapp, a co-founder and co-managing director of Magicalia. He believes the formula need not be limited to special interest titles. "We happen to be implementing it into specialist areas because those are areas we can dominate more easily, but it is applicable to newspapers and consumer magazines." The entire process has been iterative and organic. Importantly, it has also always involved a team representing all areas of the Magicalia business: commercial, marketing, creative and technology. Magicalia user profile database, containing site members' details, preferences and so on, is the engine that drives everything else. Over time Magicalia has added further databases (articles, forums, shops, clubs, picture galleries, product reviews, classified ads and so on) as required and 'stitched' them together so that everything inter-relates. There is nothing on any Magicalia site that is not stored in a database. Every piece of content is an object with associated metadata that enables the system to manage and publish that piece of content appropriately. That metadata includes standard data elements (create dates, author, last update and so on) as well as keywords (to improve searching), cross- referencing to other related content (including smart referencing), and personalisation through the interest categories that users select so that Magicalia can target content accordingly. Business Solutions Although Magicalia’s architecture itself is now complex, after many years evolution, it is robust and very easily replicable. This means that Magicalia has a tried and tested platform which it can use to develop and deploy new sites, for itself and for clients, in next to no time and at minimal cost. Having said that, Magicalia is using it to provide e-
  13. 13. commerce and commerce services for its enterprise clients. The Magicalia publishing service (MPS) works for several blue chip magazine publishers. It produces the AOP award winning website, Runner's World, for NatMags. It also works for smaller independent publishers, producing sites like Dive Magazine for Circle Publishing. Magicalia’s approach to working with magazine groups is very different from content management / community platform vendors. It is one of the only independent publishing groups to operate a profitable business publishing community sites. This gives it a great deal of experience in how to make online publishing work. Magicalia knows how to sell subs effectively, how to build reader databases and how to involve readers more closely in a brand. It also knows how to sell online advertising, and how to organize the editorial and production teams behind the website effectively and profitably. The Magicalia Publishing Service (MPS) brings this experience to bear whilst helping the contract publishing clients grow their online operations. Magicalia also serves over 40 retail clients through the Magicalia Commerce Service (MCS). Between them they ship hundreds of orders per day, and turnover in excess of £16m per year. This gives Magicalia a wealth of experience in how to build and operate an e-commerce operation successfully. It shares this experience with its clients to help them expand. The Magicalia Commerce Service (MCS) is exactly that - a service. Magicalia is much more than site developers - It is a role to help grow businesses. The MCS service brings together cutting edge technology and a consulting advice and support to help plan and implement online marketing and e- commerce operations. That may mean helping with designing voucher programmes, or it might mean helping how to structure teams for growth and development. Use the Right Channel Magicalia communicate with its audience with an integrated E-voice. The print is a supportive medium for its operation and not the base. Its main channels to talk to people is its websites; A variety that meets customer’s interests and hobbies. Its community websites do the PR necessary to drive traffic and create buzz around the media websites, e-commerce websites and magazines. Subscription to any of its websites means getting critical information about individual subscriber. This information is used to customize offers and communication message to those subscribers; to sense and respond at the right time with the right message through the right channel. In addition, using the opt-in email,
  14. 14. Magicalia created a data base of millions of subscribers who by their choice decided that they wouldn’t mind receiving emails from Magicalia and its third parties. On most of Magicalia’s websites, you will see banner ads to link you to other websites. As well you can see the banner ads on some other affiliate websites. Magicalia as well sponsors events in cycling, golf, parenting and others according to its special interest guidelines. A great example on this was the high profile sponsorship agreement between Magicalia Publishing and the NEC bike show an International Motorcycle and Scooter Show in September 2007. The sponsorship is worth around a quarter of a million pounds over three years and sees the feature renamed The TWO/Visordown All-Star Forum. The deal was set to boost the Show’s incredible line-up of interactive entertainment, with a bike giveaway and celebrity appearances from biking legends including Niall Mackenzie and James Whitham. Other elements of the exciting new feature will include ‘Photo Me’, allowing visitors to have their photos taken with visiting celebrities and then uploaded to the Visordown website. ‘Face the Wall’, consists of visitors winning prizes for successfully locating images of themselves from the Visordown wall. On Preview Day, it was also ‘Niall’s Round’, as the legendary racer Niall Mackenzie bought the beers for all Visordown/TWO readers on the stand. The sponsorship agreement coincided with a heightened marketing campaign for the Show across the two Magicalia brands, designed to build expectation, interest and excitement in the event in the months leading up to the opening. As well as a comprehensive advertising campaign that ran across the Visordown website leading up to the Show, TWO magazine printed a floor plan and a Show Guide in its January edition. The strategy Magicalia is using indicates how they take advantage of every channel to support other channels and grow their business entirely. It also pointed out that Magicalia understands what each e- tool can and cannot do and how each tool is physically used. Understand individual needs Magicalia knows the drivers of its customers. It realized the the first and most important need is a rich and interesting Content that caters the passion of the audience. Second, Customization or mass customization is important to personalize its offerings and communications. Community is at the heart of Magicalia’s business, through its range of community websites, which in turn drives traffic, generates interest and links potential customers to its e-commerce - transactional websites. All in all provide Convenience to the audience making browsing through Magicalia’s websites a pleasant
  15. 15. experience, simple yet rich…Magicalia also offers the Choice to its audience by acquiring more and more special interests websites and magazine that can be easily navigated. Magicalia understands that Cost Reduction is as well an important need for its audience so it acts as an intermediary who provides useful information and products reviews to make sure satisfaction is occurring in every transaction. Many examples could be given on the above strategy that caters for the 6Cs of customer motivations. Just log on to any of Magicalia’s websites (,,,…etc) and you will find out. Relevant offers for continued usage of online services Magicalia’s CEO Adam Laird in his interview with Ibuz mentioned above explained that his strategy is very cautious with its communication. He said that Magicalia made sure that it’s talking to real enthusiasts and not pass-by customers. This means relevant offers to this particular people are implemented. It also means that this communication especially opt-in email is delivering customized messages to unique site subscribers with information that is relevant to their hobbies and interests so that they continue using the online services provided by Magicalia.
  16. 16. CONCLUSION Magicalia’s objective was to develop an architecture which could support multiple specialist community sites, to differentiate its offering by providing a high level of localisation and personalisation and to build a central member profile database underpinning its sites. The specialised sports and niche interests Magicalia deals with have strong communities and a lot of the activities are localised, around clubs or shops for example, so its content model had to have users and locality at its core. Magicalia believed that the web is not the same as print. To make the most of the online medium, magicalia has to exploit its powers of interactivity and relationship building (between content and people). It knew that without an underpinning content model it cannot deliver or maintain the levels of inter-relationship and interactivity required to create a compelling web proposition, according to magicalia’s founders quoted on the UK Association of Online Publishers (AOP) Case Study. Key points Throughout this report, and having done the research on Magicalia’s business, key points are to be identified and learned from. The points are described below: Magicalia has put the users at the centre of its model. The one-to-one, interactive nature of the web means that whatever the site the user is the most important element in the equation - the 'unique key' off which all other data, content and information hangs. Magicalia didn’t predict the architecture at the beginning. The only way was to iterate and evolve organically over time in response to user and business requirements. Development and ownership of the model was done by seniors, mixed-skill, cross- departmental teams. It is important that the conceptual integrity and homogeneity of the architecture is cascaded from the top down to suffuse all elements of work on the site. Magicalia listened to its users. It developed and evolved the model by listening to suggestions and feedback from real users. Technical smartness and complexity is one thing but the end experience was ‘user simple' and user relevant. Magicalia treats all content as objects with certain qualities and attributes (defined by good metadata) that allow manipulation and milking the value of that content.
  17. 17. Whilst Magicalia still believes that localisation and personalisation will be differentiators in the long term, they have not been as important and differentiating in the short term as predicted. However, having good content inter-relations has proved to be incredibly important. Another reason to make sure you spend quality time on getting your architecture and content model right. The front end (design, look and feel, user interface etc.) and back end (databases, applications etc.) were developed in parallel and by teams working in close collaboration. The end experience was driven by the user, no doubt, but the back end was also considered and, realistically, set certain parameters. "It is clear to us as a small to medium sized company, how much harder all this is for a very large company. As stated, a lot rides on the conceptual integrity and homogeneity of the ‘organism' you are creating. With the attendant decisions by committee, changes in direction etc. that are more typical of a large company with many departments it is very hard to hold the model together." - Quoted from one of the founders at the AOP website. Main findings "A good content model delivers huge operational efficiencies whilst improving the quality of the user experience." - Quoted from one of the founders at the AOP website. Without its content model and information architecture Magicalia could not deliver what it needs to in order to acquire users, keep them happy and keep them coming back. On one of its sites Magicalia often has more than 4,000 forum posts a day, not to mention the articles, reviews, product updates and so on that must appear on the site every day and all of them are inter-related. It would be an impossible, and impossibly expensive, task to do this manually rather than exploit the power and 'intelligence' of its architecture. The more intelligently Magicalia has been able to exploit the inter-relationships of its content model, the more it has seen direct revenue benefits in the form of increased user loyalty, increased viral activity (users referring other users) and increased page impressions per visit. "The content model is a hugely valuable intellectual property asset that embeds our learnings and experience over the years into a form of -DNA.'" - Quoted from one of the founders at the AOP website.
  18. 18. BIBLIOGRAPHY e-Business and e-Commerce Management (third edition) by Dave Chaffey eMarketing eXcellence: Planning and Optimising Your Digital Marketing (Emarketing Essentials) (third edition) by Dave Chaffey overview/p!ecLagi /Magicalia-breaths-new-life-into-moribund-magazines.html overview/p!ecLagi
  19. 19. publishing /Magicalia-breaths-new-life-into-moribund-magazines.html shift.html