How your digital edition can help your print edition

There are many reasons to support your digital edition; it increases the value of your product bundle, increases subscriber retention, and has a huge growth potential. But there is another reason that is sometimes overlooked: your digital edition can help your print edition succeed as well. Editions are at the core of our technology and innovation at Twipe, so this week we analysed three ways digital editions can help print editions grow.

Using digital analytics to improve your print edition

It is clear that there is more room for data gathering from your digital readers than from your print readers. This doesn’t mean however that you can’t use your digital edition data to improve your print edition. Canadian daily The Globe and Mail did just this with their most recent print redesign. Using their online analytic data, they saw that opinion pieces were the most popular content so they brought their opinion section into the A section on weekdays and extended the opinion section on weekends. They also found that readers have a preference for content from Globe staff, over freelance or wire content, so those stories now have a larger emphasis in the paper’s layout.

What we are trying to do is focus our best content into the sections that are most read.

Phillip Crawley, publisher and CEO of the Globe and Mail

We’ve seen European examples of this as well. Belgian regional L’Avenir used EngageReaders data from their digital edition to determine the order of the sections in their print edition, particularly to determine if the regional sports section should come before or after the national sports section. German daily Aachener Zeitung also uses EngageReaders, with Ulrich Kutsch, Chief Digital Officer, explaining that they use the data to better understand their readers in order to decide their focus for both print and digital.

EngageReaders gives an overview of how different topics perform. And this is a really important point for us. We are using it in the editorial team in order to decide where to put our effort.

Ulrich Kutsch, Chief Digital Officer at Aachener Zeitung

Digital bundles driving print subscriptions

Digital bundles can also help to drive print subscriptions, as seen in British weekly The Spectator’s recent announcement that their print sales have hit a 190 year high–all thanks to digital. Visitors to The Spectator’s digital edition can read 2 articles a week before being invited to subscribe for full access. Of those that subscribe, the vast majority pick the print and digital package, at £12 for a three-month trial. Such subscribers, who may have thought they never would have gotten in to the habit of reading a print weekly, end up hooked, with most trial subscribers moving on to the full subscription. In short, the digital bundle is an aid for driving new print subscribers, not a threat.

Digital is not a threat to print. In our experience, digital has led to renaissance of print.

Fraser Nelson, editor at The Spectator

A study from the American Press Institute found that adults age 65 and older who pay for news are five times more likely to buy print than digital, while in contrast younger adults age 18 to 34 are equally likely to pay for print or digital. There is no age group that is only likely to pay for digital, so print subscriptions must still be part of your subscription strategy.

Additionally, the study found that print-oriented subscribers have digital reading behaviours as well. 38% of subscribers who described themselves as primarily print users also visit the newspaper’s digital edition. One of the key lessons for subscription conversions is that mode of news consumption is not an innate preference. A study from The Media Insight Project found that media consumption habits can change based on life circumstances, and even go against previously stated preferences.

Digital deepening print loyalty

Digital editions also help to deepen reader loyalty for the whole product offering. Subscribers with both print and digital access are more likely to continue their subscription, in part because they are able to use the digital edition to supplement their reading of the print newspaper, such as when they are traveling.

Le Monde found this as well, with their digital-only edition La Matinale. Originally it had its own subscription package but was soon bundled into the regular Le Monde subscription packages, as it emerged that La Matinale was best suited as a loyalty product. By increasing the satisfaction subscribers got out of the entire Le Monde offering, their digital-only edition helps to deepen reader loyalty for all products.

In the beginning, we thought because we were reaching a new audience it should have its own subscription at 4 or 5 euros. But we realised it was more of a loyalty product, used by our main subscribers so we should use it to engage readers.

Diane Lemoine, Director of Digital Marketing at Le Monde

La Matinale is one of the case studies in Twipe’s upcoming research report on digital-only editions. Sign up to be notified when “Reinventing digital-only editions: analysis of success factors” will be released later this Spring.

This article was written by Mary-Katharine Phillips, Media Innovation Analyst at Twipe from 2017 – 2021.


Team Twipe

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