Digital Subscriptions, General

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 about their strategies and learnings. We conducted the interview with Daniel Schütte, head of online product development at NWZ, and asked him how NWZ generates sustainable growth through digital subscriptions.

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 advanced our premium article strategy. We put for example even more background information behind paywalls. 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 we placed behind paywalls. Because of that many readers decided to opt for a digital subscription.

NWZ 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

How does NWZ generate sustainable growth and what are the next steps 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 an experience, we take away that live tickers work very well for a digital subscription strategy. Because it allows readers to get started easily and involves them more deeply in the topics. Readers are seeing more premium content in the live ticker now where we could embed the local information. 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.

We will pursue and increase our digital subscription strategy of putting more content behind paywalls. Furthermore, we are focusing on former subscribers with welcome back offers in order to win them back. We want to adapt further to our new subscriber journey.

CeleraOne helps NWZ to monetize its digital content

The NWZ has been successfully using smart paywalls including the audience development of CeleraOne since 2014. Through that NWZ could generate annual increases in online-only subscriptions. With the CeleraOne article recommendation system, the NWZ offers logged-in readers personalized article recommendations. That means that logged-in readers see additional articles for their interest group. A special feature shows just articles to the readers that they have not yet read.

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

Read the NWZ case study
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