Learning from the crisis: How NWZ generates sustainable growth through digital subscriptions

12 Jun, 2020 - 5 minutes read
Learning from the crisis: How NWZ generates sustainable growth through digital subscriptions

We asked the NordwestZeitung Online, a regional newspaper in Germany, how they coped with the corona crisis and received exciting answers. The interview was conducted with Daniel Schütte, head of online product development at NWZ.

Did NWZ change its digital strategy during Corona time?

Our pricing strategy at NWZ Online has remained the same, we have neither reduced the prices nor created a special offer during this time. Nevertheless, the NWZ Online achieved a 353% increase in digital subscriptions in March and April 2020. This is mainly due to the fact that we continued to advance our premium article strategy, i.e. we put even more background information behind paywalls, and at the same time the need for local news during the Corona crisis has been increasing, because readers could not discover that through national media.

We made information about Coronavirus freely accessible to our readers in a live ticker. However, readers needed a subscription to find out what was happening locally. Additional information and local background stories that gave a complete picture were placed behind paywalls. Because of that many readers decided to opt for a digital subscription.

NWZ increases in the daily page views and digital subscriptions in Q1 2020
There is a clear increase in the daily page views and digital subscriptions in week no. 12.2020, in the time of the Corona peak. After that, page views and subscriptions decreased again but level off at a higher level than before the Corona period. Source: NWZ

What happens next after the crisis?

With the climax of the crisis, we saw of course a significant increase in daily page views and digital subscriptions in March and April. Although the numbers have dropped again, they are still at a significantly higher level than in January and February 2020. This is remarkable since the pre-crisis numbers were already at a high. It gives us hope that local news is now more deeply connected in the everyday lives of people of all ages than it was the case before the crisis.

As a learning we take away that live tickers work very well for a digital subscription strategy since it allows readers to get started easily and involves them more deeply in the topics. More premium content gets to be shown to readers because it is embedded in the live ticker. This in turn triggers the readers’ interest in the background of the story.

In addition to the local and international Corona live ticker, we now have a live ticker for the region Ostfriesland with regional news and a blue light live ticker for local police news from the entire region. It also allows space for smaller notifications that have not been mentioned before.

Our digital subscription strategy to put more content behind paywalls should be consistently pursued and increased. Furthermore, we are focusing on former subscribers with welcome back offers in order to win them back, and we want to adapt further our new subscriber journey.

CeleraOne helps NWZ to monetize its digital content

The NWZ has been successfully using the smart paywalls including the audience development of CeleraOne since 2014 and could generate annual increases in online only subscriptions. With the CeleraOne article recommendation system, the NWZ offers logged-in readers personalized article recommendations. The most read articles by users from the same user group of the most read newspaper sections are displayed to the logged-in readers. A special feature is that readers are only shown the articles that they have not yet read.

Find out more about the successful subscription strategies and best practices in the NWZ case study.

Learn more about best practices and read our NWZ case study
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