The Free Magazines on the Tram Initiative
Recently I helped Public Libraries of South Australia and the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure with an initiative to provide a selection of free electronic magazines to commuters on Adelaide’s metropolitan tram service.
The initiative was launched on 10 August 2016 with this press release from the State Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Peter Malinauskas. The service was featured that morning on the ABC Local Radio’s breakfast program with Matthew Abraham and David Bevan, and in The Adelaide Advertiser.
How does it work? The Customer’s Perspective
Commuters on the Adelaide tram network see the ‘Free Magazines on the Tram’ signs.
The signs prompt the user to visit the special URL on their device. Commuters can choose to use the tram’s free wi-fi service or their own mobile data to access the URL.
Upon visiting the URL, they are presented with a landing page – the page uses ‘responsive design’ and renders appropriately on any device, regardless of the screen dimensions.
Here the user can select from eight popular magazine titles that are automatically updated as new issues are released. To access a magazine on their first visit, the user is required to provide their first name and an email address:
Once this information has been entered, the user is given access to the magazine directly in their device’s web browser, using the Zinio Reader.
24 hours later, the user is sent a single, personalised email that promotes the free magazines service offered by Libraries of South Australia.
Repeat visitors to the service are not prompted again for their first name or email address, allowing unfettered access to the magazines on their daily commute.
The Technical Stuff
From the outset, we wanted to deliver a service that was simple, providing users with the fastest possible access to the content, without unnecessary user actions or delays. We workshopped the user experience (UX) closely and tested the end-to-end process to remove any barriers between the user and the content.
We also wanted to alert people to the fact that public libraries are increasingly providing access to digital content remotely – not just physical books that are borrowed at the library itself. Libraries today offer a host of fantastic electronic services – eg. eBooks, eMagazines, online learning – that can be accessed via the internet.
Of utmost importance is the ‘responsive design’ of the landing page. Clearly, users on the tram will be accessing the service from their own personal devices, most likely mobile phones and tablets, and therefore it was important that the page rendered in an accessible format on these devices. We used a responsive design template as the basis for our landing page. The service is hosted on a low-cost Amazon Web Services Elastic Compute instance.
The service connects to Zinio’s Application Programming Interface (API) for the delivery of the magazine content. The user’s first name and email address are used to establish an account on the fly with Zinio when they access the service for the first time. A cookie is stored on the user’s device which removes the requirement to resubmit these details on repeat visits. A daily cron job checks for the latest issue of the eight magazines and the corresponding cover images.
When the user enters their first name and email address, this data is sent to email marketing software Mailchimp via their API. We have set up an automation rule in Mailchimp that automatically sends the personalised ‘Free Mags’ email (shown above) 24 hours after the user first uses the system. This email is only sent once to the recipient, regardless of their continued use of the system.
To monitor the performance of the system, we have established a Google Analytics Dashboard, which provides a tally of magazine ‘reads’ using Event Tracking. We can also monitor engagement using the reports provided by Mailchimp.
The system is designed for replication. Many different instances of the same system can be established with different landing page URLs and a different selection of magazine titles. There are opportunities to promote unique URLs in the various places that people are required to wait. Possible locations include doctor’s offices, at transport hubs, or prior to the commencement of sporting fixtures.