Forbo Flooring Systems has manufactured and supplied flooring for business and consumer markets worldwide since 1928. With offices around the world, internal and external communication is highly important. Forbo started using Instant Magazine to create various types of sales and marketing collateral in 2015. They’ve made inspiring customer magazines, immersive annual reports and interactive digital brochures. To date, they’ve created more than 80 publications in 6 different languages. This case study features an interview with Rowena de Roos, Forbo’s international communications manager.
"With Instant Magazine, we can present our collections in a modern, fresh and inspirational way. On top of that, going digital has cut our production costs in half by eliminating printing costs!"
We needed a better way to showcase our product collections (like Marmoleum). We wanted to be modern, fresh and inspiring. In the past we used lots of PDFs for our sales and marketing material, but they’re just not practical. PDFs are neither interactive nor responsive. Our website was not a good solution either. Websites are fairly static and can often feel like a maze to visitors. With so much content on there, our website started to feel more like a Wiki ;).
Digital publications turned out to be the perfect solution. The way we present our collections has now become more of a narrative, full of images and even full screen video. And these publications are way more intuitive. They have a simple navigation structure that guides readers smoothly through our content, holding their attention longer.
Another big plus is that we can easily update our product catalog even after publication. This is really important to us as our collections change often. With a digital catalog, it takes very little effort to update, enrich or even add to it. It’s also now easy to simply duplicate and translate our sales and marketing collateral for other offices around the world.
We use our digital product catalogs to inspire readers with good content. The primary goal really is inspiration. We want to warm readers up so they initiate contact with us. That’s why, on the last pages, we always include a call-to-action with various contact options.
Our product publications are successful if they inspire readers, get them to imagine the possibilities our collections have to offer, and persuade them to contact us. We really don’t want to overload people with text; we want to excite them with beautiful imagery. And so, we didn’t set up hard sales goals because it’s really about creating inspiration.
Still, Google Analytics gives us lots of insight into how well our catalog (and our other sales and marketing assets) performs. We can see how far readers get through a publication. If they only make it to page 2 and then leave, that's obviously a bad sign. We always keep an eye on what pages readers land on and where they exit. Getting these metrics was completely unheard of back in the “PDF days.” The data thus helps us measure success. Everything in our digital publications is measurable, and that's really a relief.
The main thing we were looking for as we researched new platforms for creating catalogs was ease and development speed. Instant Magazine is both easy to use and you can make adjustments really quickly.
It was also essential that we could measure readership and that our product catalogs be perfectly responsive so users could enjoy them on any device. Instant Magazine passed in both regards.
On top of all this, Instant Magazine is widely used by top companies, and the platform is constantly improving. We’re always able to count on quick, personal responses when it comes to support questions or feedback. We already use the platform for product catalogs, inspirational magazines, annual reports and product brochures, but we also see opportunities for our staff magazine, quarterly reports and other internal and external communications.
From early on, we saw the potential to communicate in an entirely new way using interactive publications. So it wasn’t merely a matter of transferring PDF content to Instant Magazine. With our new digital publications, the focus is more on engagement. We now use far less text and much more video and photography.
We work together with a creative agency called Plan B, and we’ve taken the process step by step. In the past we would write text first. But now we choose all the visual elements first, and then write the copy afterwards. It’s really another mindset.
Very enthusiastically! The navigation is intuitive and gives the catalog rhythm and fluidity. It’s a good content experience and we’ve received very positive feedback.
Overall, all of our digital publications are positively received by local marketing managers in our offices around the world. As I said before, we can now effortlessly duplicate and translate all our marketing assets, which allows us to produce content quickly.
Our sales representatives are also very happy. They can show our digital publications on their tablets even when offline, which is very useful! They no longer need to carry around paper brochures and all kinds of big binders ;-).
The main goal for our digital product catalog is to inspire, and we’ve certainly achieved that. Since switching from PDFs to interactive digital publications, we’ve received lots of positive responses and many contact requests. Goal achieved!
Looking at the statistics, we can see how big of a difference responsive design has made. Thirty percent of our readers view the catalog on their tablet or smartphone! PDFs are just not designed for mobile devices. Dutch visitors are spending an average of 3 minutes in our publication, which is a big improvement over the 50 seconds they typically spend looking at similar material on our regular website. We are very happy about that!
For our English catalog, the results are even better. The analytics show that visitors spend an average of 5 (!) minutes in the new catalog and view an average of 18 (out of 23) pages. We are very happy about that too!
We would like to do more with personalization. Imagine having our reader's name and company on the cover, and even pre-filling their information in the embedded forms. It’s all possible with Instant Magazine.
We’re also planning on moving away from putting our digital publications on a subdomain of our regular website. We think our interactive sales and marketing collateral deserve their own website and fully-owned domain.
Together with Plan B, our creative agency, we’ll test the new setup in the Netherlands and then roll it out in other countries. Of course, we want to keep digitizing even more. At Forbo we’re really at the “Eve of Digital Transformation.”
Let your pictures tell the story. Make use of large, high quality photos and videos, and try to limit the amount of text. Get people to remember you by inspiring them with beautiful content.
Agency: Plan B
Publication: Marmoleum magazine